Hopes soar: Ed­in­burgh Zoo panda might be preg­nant

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - LIFE -

LON­DON (AP) — The only fe­male gi­ant panda in Britain is thought to be preg­nant, Ed­in­burgh Zoo said Thurs­day.

The zoo said Tian Tian “is be­ing closely mon­i­tored,” but it’s un­clear when she will give birth. The zoo said “it’s hard to pre­dict pre­cisely and the panda breed­ing sea­son can last un­til late Septem­ber.”

Tian Tian and male panda Yang Guang, who are both 14, ar­rived in Ed­in­burgh on a decade-long loan from China in 2011 and are the only gi­ant pan­das in Britain.

Tian Tian, or Sweetie, has been preg­nant sev­eral times be­fore in the U.K. but has never given birth. She had twin cubs in 2009 in China.

Gi­ant pan­das have dif­fi­culty breed­ing and their preg­nan­cies are no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult to fol­low. Their fe­tuses are tiny and hard to de­tect, and the an­i­mals also ex­pe­ri­ence “pseudo-preg­nan­cies” dur­ing which be­hav­ior and hor­monal changes in­di­cate they are preg­nant even when they are not.

The zoo’s state­ment came after the Ed­in­burgh Evening News ob­tained cor­re­spon­dence be­tween the zoo and Scot­tish gov­ern­ment dis­clos­ing that Tian Tian was ar­ti­fi­cially in­sem­i­nated and could give birth as early as this week.

As­so­ci­ated Press file photo

Tian Tian is pho­tographed Sept 22, 2014, at Ed­in­burgh Zoo in Scot­land.

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