Singapore

Birthday celebrations for pandas amid pregnancy talk

The River Safari's pandas enjoyed a yummy birthday cake treat on Wednesday (Sept 3) amid the possibility that Jia Jia is pregnant.

The female panda, who turned seven, has been keeping her human minders guessing with her behavioural and hormonal changes.

After reaching sexual maturity with her mate Kai Kai this year, Jia Jia was artificially inseminated in April when the pair's attempt to mate appeared unsuccessful.

Since July, she has been eating less, sleeping more, spending more time in her den and experiencing elevated hormone levels – all of which are signs of pregnancy.


Jia Jia undergoes an ultrasound scan conducted by WRS staff. PHOTO: WRS

However, giant pandas, which have a gestation period of five months, have been known to experience pseudopregnancy, a situation where a panda displays signs of being pregnant when it actually isn't.

It means Jia Jia's caretakers will only know for sure if she is expecting until the later stages of her pregnancy as panda foetuses usually develop a few weeks before being born.

 Dr Serena Oh, Assistant Director of Veterinary Services at the Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: "Her behaviours are in line with a rise in progesterone but it is not easy to confirm her pregnancy because the gestation period varies for each panda.

"Giant pandas have delayed implantation and it is difficult to see the small foetus during ultrasound scans.

"We can only definitively conclude she is not pregnant once her hormone levels return to normal and she has not delivered, but for now, it is still a guessing game."

Meanwhile, Kai Kai, who turns eight on Sept 14, enjoyed his birthday cake along with 30 pre-school children from PCF Zhenghua.

The River Safari will commemorate the pandas' birthdays with a Panda Party Week starting Saturday  (Sept 5), which will see the pandas showered with daily treats for their enrichment.

Children who were born in 2007 and 2008 will be granted free entrance to the River Safari, which will have interactive booths set up for visitors as well as special offers for panda merchandise.

Scroll down for more photos of the pandas' birthday celebrations.

Female panda Jia Jia enjoys her birthday cake in her enclosure at the River Safari.

Uncategorisedanimalspandabirthdaypregnancy