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    Pregnant Panda at Washington Zoo?


    by NTDTelevision

    Animal keepers at Washington's Smithsonian National Zoological Park went on pregnancy watch on Tuesday, after Giant Panda Mei Xiang hormone's levels increased.

    Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated in April after attempts to get her to naturally breed with the male panda Tian Tian failed.

    [Juan Rodriguez, National Zoo Animal Keeper]:
    "They only have one day out of the year and just a few hours within that day to remember what they have to do, and because that window is so small, once she ovulates the clock really starts ticking, you have just a limited amount of time to allow them to breed naturally. If they don't that's where we are fortunate to have a reproductive team here that can actually come in and literally within minutes be able prepare her for artificial insemination.”

    The hormone levels in her urine suggest she is either 40 or 50 days away from giving birth or is experiencing her sixth pseudopregnancy since 2007.

    Pseudopregnancy is a common occurrence in giant pandas and occur when a female exhibits signs and symptoms of a pregnancy.

    [Juan Rodriguez, National Zoo Animal Keeper]:
    "We have to pretty much treat this as if it's truth birth, or a true pregnancy just because there are so many unknowns you don't want to come in one day and get caught off guard and go 'oh wow, she has a cub' so every time we do the natural breeding or the attempt of natural breeding and the artificial insemination and we automatically in our head prepare or that day if it were to arrive and we hope for the best.”

    Mei Xiang has begun to build a nest out of bamboo, is more moody, less active, and spending more time sleeping.

    Zoo officials say the chance of an actual pregnancy for Mei Xiang is less than 10 percent.