National Zoo Live-Tweets Panda's Artificial Insemination

04/30/2012 at 05:15 PM EDT

National Zoo Live-Tweets Panda's Artificial Insemination
Panda Mei Xiang gets artificially inseminated
Courtesy National Zoo
Panda babies are always big news, but the Smithsonian's National Zoo is hoping that panda insemination will be, too.

The Washington, D.C., institution brought a live-Tweeter into the lab on Monday to document the artificial insemination of its female giant panda, Mei Xiang, who began her breeding period over the weekend.

Mei Xiang, 13, received her first artificial insemination on Sunday, but Monday's procedure got the play-by-play online. She is being inseminated with the preserved (frozen, then thawed) sperm collected from panda Tian Tian in 2005, which the zoo described as "'vintage' sperm" in a Tweet sent at 4:50 p.m. Monday.

Other gems from the zoo's feed? The sperm "had good mobility (lots of swimming)," and doctors are using a "total of 1.5 mL of sperm, or up to 800 million motile sperm in the sample!"

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