Taipei Zoo yesterday said giant panda Yuan Yuan (圓圓) was showing signs of being pregnant, but said it would be unable to confirm her pregnancy until the results of an ultrasound scan are available.
Yuan Yuan’s pregnancy would be welcome news for the zoo, as it would be the first time that a giant panda cub had been born in captivity in Taiwan.
Taipei Zoo spokesman Chao Ming-chieh (趙明杰) said Yuan Yuan may be expecting because she was showing the usual signs of pregnancy in a panda, such as poor appetite, long hours of sleep and restlessness. However, the zoo said it would have to wait for the results of the ultrasound scan early next month to know for sure.
“The zoo will continue to monitor Yuan Yuan’s situation, and if she is pregnant, the zoo would welcome a panda cub some time next month,” he said.
The zoo helped the female panda try to conceive via an artificial insemination program in March, and while the gestation period for a panda is about four to five months, it is difficult to confirm a panda’s pregnancy until two weeks before it gives birth because the fetus is so small, he said.
The zoo has failed in previous attempts to persuade Yuan Yuan and male panda Tuan Tuan (團團) to mate since the two pandas were donated to the zoo by China in 2008.
Every year, the zoo invites panda experts from the Wolong Panda Base in China’s Sichuan Province to help with the mating process. Chao said panda experts would visit the zoo again next month to help in monitoring Yuan Yuan’s situation.
According to the zoo, giant pandas breed between the ages of five and 20 and the average age for successful breeding is from seven to nine years old.
The two pandas are seven years old and the zoo will continue its effort to get Yuan Yuan pregnant next year if the effort has failed again this year.