Well isn’t this a trip? A Giant female panda bear who was set to star in the first-ever live broadcast of the birth of panda cubs has been faking her pregnancy all along to get more food and better treatment!
Zookeepers at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China determined that the 6-year old panda, Ai Hin, had a phantom pregnancy even though in July she showed signs of pregnancy early on: a change in appetite, less movement and an increase in progestational hormone.
Panda researchers have determined that after the bears realize that pregnant bears get preferential treatment like more buns, fruits and bamboo and an air conditioning room with around-the-clock care, they start to show behaviors associated with early pregnancy.
And the reason for the extra treatment is because Giant pandas, which have but a 3-day window each year to get pregnant, do not generally breed in captivity. These phantom pregnancies are not unusual, either, as a result.
Given the fact that only 1/3rd to half of pandas born in captivity in China survive past infancy, the extra care of pregnant pandas is warranted.
Only…it’s also a set up for fake pregnancies like that of Ai Hin who recently went back to her old self, sans pregnancy symptoms. Look at that!