Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

August 29, 2012

National Zoo can’t say yet if DC panda is pregnant

WASHINGTON — Veterinarians at the National Zoo conducted their first ultrasound examination Tuesday on the female giant panda Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) since she began building a nest over the weekend, but they can’t yet determine whether she is pregnant.

Zoo officials tweeted updates as keepers encouraged Mei Xiang to cooperate. Zoo scientists recently detected a rise in hormone levels that could indicate the panda is either pregnant or experiencing a “pseudopregnancy,” which occurs when a panda ovulates but doesn’t conceive.

Mei Xiang has had five consecutive pseudopregnancies since 2007. She gave birth to her only cub, Tai Shan, in 2005.

Scientists at the zoo have said Mei Xiang has less than a 10 percent chance of being pregnant this year after so many failed attempts, said zoo spokeswoman Lindsay Renick Mayer. Scientists have said she may be infertile at this point, but they called on Chinese panda experts to help with the breeding process this year.

Still, Mei Xiang is showing all the signs of a possible pregnancy. Over the weekend, Mei Xiang began building a nest with bamboo and was eating less than usual. The 14-year-old panda was artificially inseminated twice in late April.

The ultrasound Tuesday showed a thickening of her uterine walls, which would be consistent with either a pregnancy or a pseudopregnancy.

If there were a fetus growing inside, it would be difficult to detect. Panda fetuses don’t start developing until the final weeks of a pregnancy. So it may be too soon to have any confirmation of whether Mei Xiang could give birth.

Zookeepers will continue trying to perform ultrasounds twice each week if Mei Xiang cooperates. They hope to know whether she is pregnant by the middle of September, Renick Mayer said.

1
Text Only
National and World
Local News
AP Video
Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel David Perdue Wins Georgia GOP Senate Runoff 98-Year-Old Woman Left in Parked Truck Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire Flight to Tel Aviv From US Diverted to Paris AP Review: Amazon Fire Adds Spark to Smartphones Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Raw: Massive Fire Burns in North Dakota Town Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball
Sister Newspapers' News