Giant panda Yuan Yuan (圓圓) at Taipei Zoo has lost her appetite somewhat, is sleeping more than usual and has been behaving like a cat on hot bricks since last week, according to the chief zookeeper.
“We can only say at the moment there is a possibility that she may be pregnant,” Taipei Zoo director Jason Yeh (葉傑生) said on Thursday.
Yeh was responding to media reports that Yuan Yuan, one of the two pandas donated by China in 2008, may be expecting, because she has been showing signs of pregnancy such as a poor appetite, long hours of sleep and restlessness.
According to Yeh, Yuan Yuan’s appetite has fallen off, with her daily intake of bamboo decreasing from between 7kg and 8kg to 1.3kg and her carrot intake falling from 800g to 100g.
Meanwhile, her daily time asleep has increased from 10 hours to 15 hours and she seldom goes to the outdoor playground, he said.
“After consulting with giant panda experts at the Wolong Panda Base in China’s Sichuan Province, we have tentatively concluded that Yuan Yuan is expecting,” Yeh said. “Nevertheless, we cannot say for sure that she is pregnant because an ultrasound examination did not detect a fetus.”
Yuan Yuan and the male Tuan Tuan both showed signs of being in heat between Feb. 7 and Feb. 12, but they did not mate, the zoo said.
Zookeepers collected sperm from Tuan Tuan for artificial insemination of Yuan Yuan on Feb. 9 and Feb. 10.
“Since March 19, Yuan Yuan has been having a daily ultrasound examination, but she started resisting the examinations this week and has been getting agitated whenever a vet approaches her,” Yeh said.
“Chinese experts have advised us not to force Yuan Yuan to have any examination for the time being because her temperament may have changed significantly due to hormonal fluctuations,” Yeh said.