Panda's pregnant pause
Wednesday 02 September 1992
As factions argue over whether the zoo should stay open and what its role should be, Ming Ming's keepers are trying to solve the puzzle of whether she is pregnant.
Ming Ming was artificially inseminated in March. Staff at the zoo hoped that they might bring about the first giant panda birth in Europe. Keepers had to resort to this tactic because the course of true panda love was not running smoothly and Ming Ming had rejected the overtures of her prospective mate Bao-Bao.
It is not known whether the insemination was successful because of the absence of any reliable pregnancy test. Mick Carman, Ming Ming's keeper, said: 'It is part of the panda biology that we are not able to know if she is going to have a cub.'
Instead the staff have to rely on behavioural observations and they have been encouraged by a change in the temperament of the habitually grumpy Ming Ming. Mr Carman said yesterday: 'On Saturday, for the first time since she came here in October, she came over and let me scratch her neck. Usually she is a bit of a misery.' Although a birth would be a triumph for staff and a much-needed addition to an endangered species, ironically it would present keepers with a dilemma because of London Zoo's uncertain future.
The zoo is scheduled to close at the end of this month, although a gift of pounds 1m from the Emir of Kuwait should allow it to remain open for longer while the debate continues. Mr Carman said: 'If the zoo does close then it will give us a headache. The cub could not be moved for six months. The first possible birth date would be 7 September but we are checking every day and it could be up to six weeks later.'
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
Earthworms rain down from skies over Norway, puzzling scientists
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a white stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Russian warships in English Channel 'to conduct anti-aircraft and anti-submarine military drills'
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...
£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...