National Zoo watches female panda for signs of pregnancy

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sibling for Tai Shan? Zoo sure hopes so.

-- The National Zoo is on a panda pregnancy watch again.

This weekend was the only time of the year that female panda Mei Xiang could have become pregnant. Now zoo veterinarians will be watching her closely for signs she is carrying a baby panda.

Panda reproduction is difficult to analyze, in part because female pandas are famous for exhibiting the signs of being pregnant even when they are not. This has happened several times with Mei Xiang and her mate, Tian Tian.

Then there is the added complication of timing: Pandas can be pregnant for anywhere from three to six months before giving birth, so it's hard to even know when a cub might be born. If Mei Xiang did get pregnant this weekend, she would have her cub sometime between April and July.

Her only other offspring, Tai Shan, is 4 years old and will be sent to China next month.

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