Panda faked being pregnant for extra food
Hopes of the first ever live-broadcast of a panda cub delivery were dashed on this week when experts suggested that the bear in question faked being pregnant in order to get extra buns.
The slated star of the show, giant panda Ai Hin, had initially shown signs of pregnancy last month at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre, according to state news agency Xinhua.
A live broadcast of the event was planned on Tuesday (Aug 26), but Xinhua said her “behaviours and physiological indexes returned to normal", citing experts saying she experienced a “phantom pregnancy”.
The breeding centre, in China’s southwestern province of Sichuan, commonly moves pandas which are thought to be pregnant into single rooms with air conditioning and around-the-clock care.
“They also receive more buns, fruits and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life,” Wu Kongju, an expert at the base, told Xinhua.
Phantom pregnancies are said to be common among the endangered animals, and many bears continue to display pregnant behaviour after noticing the difference in treatment they receive, Xinhua said.
Six-year-old Ai Hin experienced reduced appetite, less mobility and a surge in hormones when her “ pregnancy” was first detected, the news agency said, before further observations concluded it was fake.