National Zoo Delivers Disappointing News On Panda Pregnancy
WASHINGTON, DC — Sorry, panda fans: there will be no baby panda at the National Zoo anytime soon. The Smithsonian has just announced that Mei Xiang, who had been exhibiting signs of pregnancy in recent months, is not pregnant after all.
Scientists, veterinarians, and animal keepers at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute have determined that there is no baby in Mei Xiang’s immediate future, and that she had been experiencing a pseudopregnancy over the last several months.
“Giant pandas’ behavior and hormones mimic a pregnancy even if they are experiencing a pseudopregnancy,” the Smithsonian said in a statement. “Reproductive scientists had been tracking Mei Xiang’s hormones since she was artificially inseminated March 28. Her levels of urinary progesterone began to rise in July indicating that she would give birth to a cub or experience the final stages of a pregnancy within 6 to 8 weeks.”
However, further investigation revealed that her hormone levels are at baseline levels and her behavior is returning to normal. Also, veterinarians have not detected a developing fetus on ultrasounds, the Smithsonian notes.
The National Zoo closed the panda house after staff noticed behavioral changes Aug. 7, including sensitivity to noise. Veterinarians started conducting regular ultrasounds after that.
Because the Zoo has determined that this was a pseudopregnancy, the panda house will return to normal operating hours on Wednesday.
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