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A zoo in Canberra has been forced to admit that it tried to mate two male red pandas for four years, after mistakenly thinking that one of them was female.
The National Zoo & Aquarium in Canberra said it had been given the red pandas, Brett and Lindsay, as a “male and female pair” as part of an exchange with Taronga zoo in 2010.
After the two animals struggled to reproduce, the zoo conducted a gender test under anaesthesia.
The results confirmed that Lindsay, the now five-year-old “female”, was actually a male.
A statement from the zoo said “the external genitalia of the male and female are similar”, making identification of sex “very difficult”.
The news has angered religious groups, which say that forcing two males to breed is “disgusting”.
“In this day and age, we accept the fact that the gays will adopt – so we’ve move with the times. Why didn’t the zoo give them a baby panda? We didn’t have anything to do with it,” says the Australian cardinal of the Roman Catholic, George Pell.
“We will support Brett and Lindsay if they choose to adopt,”
There are now plans to find an authentic female to breed with either Brett or Lindsay, or both, it added.