Panda Yuan Yuan may be expecting: Taipei Zoo chief

May 13, 2011 at 8:43 pm Leave a comment

Source: Focus TaiWan News Channel

Taipei, May 12 (CNA) A giant panda called Yuan Yuan at Taipei Zoo has lost her appetite somewhat, is sleeping more than usual and has been behaving like a cat on hot bricks since last week, the chief zookeeper said Thursday.

“We can only say at the moment there is a possibility that she may be pregnant,” said Taipei Zoo Director Jason Yeh.

Yeh was responding to a United Daily News report Thursday that Yuan Yuan, one of the two pandas donated by China in 2008 to signify improved relations across the Taiwan Strait, may be expecting because she has been showing signs of pregnancy, such as poor appetite, long hours of sleep and restlessness.

According Yeh, Yuan Yuan’s appetite has fallen off, with her daily intake of bamboo decreasing from 7-to-8 kilograms to 1.3 kg and her carrot intake falling from 800 grams to 100 grams.

Meanwhile, her daily sleep time has increased from 10 hours to 15 hours and she has seldom been going to the outdoor playground, he said.

“After consulting with giant panda experts at the Wolong Panda Base in China’s Sichuan Province, we have tentatively concluded that Yuan Yuan is expecting,” Yeh said.

Citing Chinese panda experts, Yeh said Yuan Yuan was showing signs very similar to when her mother Lei Lei was expecting her.

“Nevertheless, we cannot say for sure that she is pregnant because a supersonic examination did not detect a fetus,” Yeh said.

Yuan Yuan and the male Tuan Tuan both showed signs of estrus between Feb. 7 and Feb. 12, but they did not mate, the zoo said.

Zookeepers collected sperm from Tuan Tuan for artificial insemination of Yuan Yuan on Feb. 9 and Feb. 10.

“Since March 19, Yuan Yuan has been having daily supersonic inspection, but she started resisting the inspections this week and has been getting agitated whenever a vet approaches her,” Yeh said.

“Chinese experts have advised us not to force Yuan Yuan to have any examination for the time being because her temperament may have changed significantly due to hormonal fluctuations,” Yeh said.

According to China’s records, female pandas can sometimes pretend to be pregnant, Yeh said.

“Even if Yuan Yuan is indeed pregnant, she will not have a big belly because a baby panda usually weighs only slightly more than 100 grams,” Yeh said.

The gestation period for caged pandas ranges between 70 days and 300 days, Yeh said, adding that panda pregnancy can be ascertained only 15 days before birth using a supersonic detector.

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Entry filed under: Giant Pandas.

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