- Title: Berlin zoo crossing fingers its first ever panda babies are on the way
- Date: 14th August 2019
- Summary: MEDIA
- Embargoed: 28th August 2019 13:14
- Keywords: panda pandas pregnancy babies Berlin zoo hopes expectations Meng Meng
- Location: BERLIN, GERMANY
- City: BERLIN, GERMANY
- Country: Germany
- Topics: Human Interest / Brights / Odd News,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA005AS6XCNT
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Is she or isn't she pregnant? That's the question on everyone's lips at Berlin Zoo, where staff and visitors are waiting to find out for certain whether female panda Meng Meng is expecting.
Meng Meng and her male companion Jiao Qing mated for the first time in April. Afterwards Meng Meng was also artificially inseminated to increase the chances of fertilisation. Since then, she has undergone a series of ultrasounds - persuaded to sit still with treats of chopped up apple.
The results, combined with elevated levels of the hormone progesterone, have buoyed hopes that the zoo might soon be able to welcome its first ever panda babies.
The ultrasound scans showed a small bulge that could be one or two embryos. And while there is still the possibility of a 'phantom pregnancy' where the embryos are not activated, Zoo Director Andreas Knieriem said he was optimistic.
Meng Meng has become less cooperative in recent weeks, making it difficult for staff to carry out further examinations. This behavioural change could be interpreted as a sign that Meng Meng is pregnant.
Reproduction expert Thomas Hildebrandt from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research has been on hand monitoring Meng Meng, and he put the chances of pregnancy at around 85 percent.
If all goes well, the zoo can expect the cub or cubs to arrive in late August or early September. Experts from China have arrived to assist zoo staff.
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