Giant panda fakes pregnancy ‘to receive nicer food and round-the-clock care’
Ai Hin had been ‘under observation’ for two months and was scheduled for worlds’ first panda live birth
The world’s first live broadcast of a panda birth has been called off after experts said the “mother” involved may have been faking the pregnancy to receive better treatment.
“Phantom pregnancies” are common among giant pandas – but keepers at her breeding centre in Sichuan province believe six-year-old Ai Hin could be exhibiting learned behaviour that marks her out as smarter than the average bear.
The giant panda started showing signs of pregnancy including reduced appetite and mobility in July, at which point she was chosen to star in a heavily-publicised first ever live birth.
But after two months of observation, experts have told state news agency Xinhua that Ai Hin’s behaviour and physiological tests returned to normal.
Wu Kongju, an expert at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre where Ai Hin is kept, explained that not all “fake” pregnancies among the animals are just down to hormonal changes.
“After showing prenatal signs, the 'mothers-to-be' are moved into single rooms with air conditioning and around-the-clock care,” Wu told Xinhua.
“They also receive more buns, fruits and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life.”
Part of the problem with breeding the highly-endangered species lies in the difficulty captive pandas have successfully giving birth.
There are 1,600 pandas left in the wild, and of the 300 or so in captivity only around a quarter will rear cubs.
Edinburgh zoo’s own female giant panda, Tian Tian, lost a cub late on in her pregnancy after a successful artificial insemination last year.
Video: Panda at Edinburgh Zoo is pregnant
Her keepers tried again this year, and the latest state-of-the-art tests suggest she could give birth for real very soon.
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 UK weather: Britain braced for snow to replace sun as arctic air mass moves in
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Russian hack of President Obama's emails worse than previously admitted
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
UK weather: Britain braced for snow to replace sun as arctic air mass moves in
Nepal earthquake: US Pastor Tony Miano sparks outcry by suggesting Nepalis should convert and not rebuild their 'pagan shrines'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£18750 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Hotel in Chadderton is a popular ch...
£32969 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...
£35000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Data Engineer is required to ...
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...