National Zoo artificially inseminates giant panda

Pamela Baker-Masson, Smithsonian's National Zoo

The National Zoo is hoping to once again hear the pitter-patter of little feet in the Panda House following the artificial insemination of Mei Xiang Saturday morning .

The giant panda was inseminated after it was determined natural breeding had not occurred between Mei Xiang and male panda Tian Tian the night before.

"We are hopeful that our breeding efforts will be successful this year, and we're encouraged by all the behaviors and hormonal data we've seen so far," said Dave Wildt, head of the Center for Species Survival at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, on the zoo's website.{ }

Mei Xiang will likely undergo a second procedure later Saturday.

Further updates will be provided by the zoo's Facebook and Twitter pages.

A baby panda was born to Tian Tian and Mei Xiang last summer at the zoo but it died six days later when it had liver trouble and possible lung disease.

The Panda House will be closed for the remainder of the day and re-open Sunday, March 31.