Nothing like a little time apart to rekindle the affections that could lead to a baby panda.

So says a panda expert sent by China to Taiwan to advise on how to encourage mating by the pair given by Beijing last December to mark the two sides’ growing friendship.

After inspecting the pandas at the Taipei Zoo on Sunday, Chinese panda expert Zhang Hemin suggested a separation of a month or two might rekindle the affection needed to reproduce.

“They may have more interest toward each other after a brief separation,” said Zhang, a researcher at the Wolong Natural Reserve in western Sichuan province where the pandas are from.

China presented Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, which together mean “reunion,” to Taiwan last December amid warming ties between the mainland and the island, which split amid civil war in 1949.

They have proved popular and many Taiwanese now wish to see them produce a baby in their new home.

Zhang said the environment at the Taipei Zoo was natural enough and would not hamper their breeding, but the animals may have become too used to each others’ presence.

Zhang also suggested that to prepare the male, Tuan Tuan, for the vital mating act, the zookeepers should set up more wooden racks so he can climb around and strengthen his hind legs.

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