Panda ‘fakes’ pregnancy to escape summer heat: Taipei Zoo

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-7-28 17:51:43

Giant panda Yuanyuan holds her female cub at the Taipei Zoo in Taipei, Taiwan, on August 9, 2013. Photo: IC

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Taipei Zoo employees told media they believe a panda thought to be pregnant may have been "faking it" to receive cooler accommodations during the hot summer, China News Service reported Tuesday.

Though "false pregnancies" are a common phenomenon among giant pandas, zookeepers said that 11-year-old Yuanyuan may have consciously exhibited signs that she was pregnant to get an air-conditioned room and better food.

Yuanyuan first showed reduced appetite and movement on June 11. Zoo employees also detected higher levels of progesterone in her excrement, another indicator of pregnancy. 

However after a month the symptoms gradually disappeared and staff confirmed Yuanyuan was not pregnant, according to the Taipei Zoo.

Yuanyuan gave birth to a female panda, Yuanzai, on July 6, 2013.

Staff believes that based on this past experience Yuanyuan "faked" her pregnancy so she could be pampered as an expectant mother and escape the summer heat.

Pregnant pandas at the zoo are moved to a climate-controlled habitat better living standard and fed a nutrient-rich diet of fruits, bamboo and other snacks. 

Zoo employees said that Yuanyuan was artificially inseminated on March 26 and 27.

The normal gestation period for a panda is around 120 to 150 days.

Wu Kongju, a panda expert, said that even if hormonal and behavioral changes occur, pregnancy can only be confirmed with accuracy a day or two prior to giving birth.

Some Netizens called Yuanyuan "clever" and "cute" for trying to deceive her keepers. 

"Life is so hard. She faked her pregnancy just for air conditioning and an easy life in the summer," a netizen from Hebei Province commented.

Newspaper headline: Moment of netizen

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