That could mean she’s “with cub” or it could mean, as it so often has for pandas in captivity, that she has a false pregnancy.
Hormone levels aren’t enough to know if Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) is actually pregnant. Zoo veterinarians have been conducting ultrasounds twice weekly, but they have not detected a fetus.
Panda fetuses don’t start developing until the final weeks of the 160-day gestation period.
That’s only one reason pandas find it so hard to have offspring. When scientists step in to help things along, they only have about 48 hours once a year, when the female is in heat, to try to achieve pregnancy.
A Chinese panda breeding expert helped zoo scientists artificially inseminate Mei Xiang in January. She and male panda Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN) had attempted to mate but weren’t successful.
Their only cub, Tai Shan (tie-SHON), was born July 9, 2005.