Berlin Zoo's Pubescent Female Panda Walks Backwards in Frustration; Staff Thinks Sex with Older Male Panda May Cure Her Angst

Zookeepers say Meng Meng walks backwards in protest of things she dislikes, but they hope she will find mature panda Jiao Qing attractive come mating season

Photo: TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images

If Meng Meng wasn’t a panda, we’d for sure think her life story would be the subject of a film directed by Sofia Coppola … something along the lines of The Virgin Suicides meets Lost in Translation.

According to Newsweek, the Berlin Zoo’s 4-year-old female panda is going through puberty and, much like human teenagers, her hormones have left her feeling pretty angsty. Meng Meng has been communicating her annoyances about life — the zoo food, the caretakers, being kept in captivity — by walking backwards in frustration. Zookeepers say her reverse walking is Meng Meng’s way of “protesting.”

“Meng Meng is in puberty,” Zoo Berlin director Andreas Knieriem told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper on Sunday, explaining that giant male and female pandas in captivity are kept apart except during mating season.

Mating season spans from February to May, at which time the Berlin Zoo staff plan to introduce Meng Meng to a more mature male panda named Jiao Qing. The zoo hopes that when presented with the opportunity for “romance” with the panda, who is three years her senior, the moody little miss panda will take out her frustrations — sexually — with the older guy.

Maurizio Gambarini/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

“By then, Meng Meng will have reached sexual maturity and could focus all her energy on seducing her partner,” Knieriem said.

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We’re not entirely sure that’s how these coming of age/first love stories work with pandas, but they’re the experts, not us.

Meng Meng and Jiao Qing were lent to Germany from China earlier this year. The zoo’s $10 million Chinese compound is a huge public attraction and was inaugurated by Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Xi Jinping (above) in July.

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