(CNN) -- Animal handlers in China have developed a "sexercise" program to try to encourage extinction-threatened pandas to overcome their notoriously low sex drives.
Efforts to remove pandas from the endangered list is helped little by their notoriously low sex drives.
Featuring hip and pelvic-strengthening "dances" for male pandas, the program also sees inexperienced pandas watching their older relatives make love to learn a few moves.
The handlers hope to encourage mating among the sex-shy-but-endangered animals, the Chinese state media reported Tuesday. They work at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in the southwestern Sichuan province, the China Daily said.
Keepers teach male pandas a dance-like routine to strengthen the pelvic and hip area -- it also boosts the animal's stamina, the paper said.
In the wild, pandas are solitary animals, coming together only in the spring to mate.
Keepers place a male panda in a female's den when she's not there and vice versa. This allows them to smell each other's odors. And if the pandas get randy at the same time, keepers bring them together, the report said.
"We arrange love-making between two excellent pandas in front of inexperienced pandas, which have never had sex. It does work," the reserve's deputy chief, Fei Lisong, told the newspaper.
The unusual measures are aimed at increasing the population of captive giant pandas. They have famously low sexual desires -- and that threatens their future.
Fewer than 1,600 giant pandas survive in the wild, along the edge of the Tibetan plateau in China, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
The peaceful, bamboo-eating member of the bear family faces a number of threats. Its forest habitat is fragmented, and giant panda populations are small and isolated from each other. Poaching is also an ever-present threat, the fund said.
The reserve has, in the past, tried to boost panda sex drive by showing the animals pornographic movies once in the morning and again in the evening.
The new "sexercise" regimen seems to be yielding results.
Fei said more than 30 percent of the 68 pandas at the reserve can have sex naturally now, compared with only 10 percent a decade ago. E-mail to a friend
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