May 3, 2009

National Zoo on panda pregnancy alert

Behavioral changes exhibited by the Washington National Zoo's giant female panda have put zoologists on a pregnancy alert, officials said.

Detecting changes in her actions and hormones, zoo officials are cautiously optimistic Mei Xiang might be pregnant. However, they warn it may be another in a series of false pregnancies for the panda, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

National Zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson told the newspaper Mei Xiang is denning, meaning she is transporting bamboo to a dark and quiet place, is eating less and is cradling her food and other objects.

Any (other) time I've seen Mei with a pear, she's eating it, Baker-Masson told the Post, which said Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated in January after it was determined she was in heat. Now is she being monitored day and night, officials said.