The footage was captured on a three-year trek through China's Qinling Mountains and is now part of the PBS documentary Nature — Pandas: Born to Be Wild

By Kelli Bender
October 19, 2020 04:13 PM
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This rare footage of giant panda mating rituals plays out like an animal soap opera.

For three years, two Chinese filmmakers, working with park rangers and scientists, trekked through the forests of China's Qinling Mountains on a mission to capture the daily lives of pandas on film. The patience and perseverance of these filmmakers paid off, they are the first to capture a particular part of the panda's mating ritual on camera. 

This first-time footage is especially impressive because the panda's breeding season is notoriously short and there are only an estimated 2,000 pandas left in the wild. Female pandas are often fertile only a few days a year, and many different factors have to go right for a panda to get pregnant in this slim window. The part of this complicated process that was recently filmed for the first time is the moment in the clip above where two male pandas fight each other for the attention of a female panda.

This rare glimpse into the intimate lives of pandas is now part of the upcoming PBS documentary Nature — Pandas: Born to Be Wild. The clip above is a sneak peek at the 60-minute doc, which will premiere on PBS on Oct. 21 at 8 p.m./7 pm. CT. The full film will include more on the panda's intricate breeding process along with a look at the day-to-day world of these "solitary and territorial" creatures, according to PBS. The documentary also follows a young panda born in captivity that is trying to learn how to live in the wild.

Tune in to Nature — Pandas: Born to Be Wild on Oct. 21 at 8 p.m./7 pm. CT on PBS, pbs.org/nature or on the PBS Video app.