Clever Panda Tricks Zookeepers Into Thinking She's Pregnant
Photo credit: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
What a smart panda! A giant panda was scheduled to give birth in a Chinese zoo, but plans to broadcast the birth live were scrapped when they discovered she wasn't actually pregnant. In fact, she may have been faking the whole thing so she could get more treats.
Phantom pregnancy for Ai Hin
At 6 years old, a large panda bear named Ai Hin had shown signs of pregnancy. Her appetite changed, she moved around less and she even had verified hormonal changes. Once pandas at this zoo are suspected of being pregnant, they are moved into an air-conditioned room and receive more nutrition in the form of fruit, buns and bamboo.
Breeding in captivity isn't an easy task, and there are apparently no pregnancy test sticks the zookeepers can find at their local drug store that would work on a giant panda. Instead, they must rely on behavior and activity to determine if there is a cub on the way. As a result, pseudo-pregnancies aren't all that uncommon in zoos around the world.
And even more depressing, infant pandas born in captivity have low survival rates, which means that when a birth is suspected to be eminent, it's a pretty big deal. So zoo staff was understandably bummed when her normal behavior resumed. They figured that not only was she not pregnant, she probably had continued to act that way for more treats and plush accommodations.
Pandas at zoos
In writing this, I decided to look up info on panda fertility in captivity, and found that pandas often lose interest in mating at zoos. In the past, zookeepers have actually showed them panda porn and given the males Viagra.
I guess you learn something new every day.