A Chinese giant panda named Ai Hin stands accused of 'faking' pregnancy – purely in order to get more buns and treats!
Back in July, Ai Hin, who's kept at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Centre in China, started showing pregnancy symptoms (a surge in progestational hormone and a decrease in activity).
The breeding centre staff were so excited, they moved Ai Hin in to a luxury, air-conditioned private room, gave her round-the-clock care and plies her with some extra food. Well, eating for 2 and all that...
The staff also started planning to broadcast the baby panda's birth live on Chinese television – which would have been a world first.
But after Ai Hin moved into her new pad, her hormone levels returned to normal and, as it turns out, she was never pregnant!
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Experts say it was probably a ‘phantom pregnancy’. It could be that Ai Hin had noticed the extra attention given to the other expectant pandas in the Centre, and wanted a piece of the action for herself.
Wu Konjgu, an expert at the centre, said panda mums-to-be "receive more buns, fruits and bamboo.”
But it could also just have been that Ai Hin was successful inseminated, making her hormone levels rise, but then the pregnancy failed – with Ai Kin still having as though she was pregnant while her hormones readjusted.
Pregnant pandas are mollycoddled and treated with extra care and attention because every new panda cub is important to the survival of the endangered species. There are only 1600 pandas left in the wild and 300 living in zoos, and he number of breeding female pandas in captivity has fallen steadily worldwide.
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