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National Zoo's panda may be pregnant

May 18, 2011 at 9:53 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, May 18 (UPI) -- Officials at the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park in Washington announced Wednesday that the zoo's giant female panda Mei Xiang may be pregnant.

The officials told ABC News a sample of the giant panda's urine exhibited higher levels of the hormone progesterone, an indication that she could be carrying a cub.

"We have now entered a window of 40 to 50 days which will dictate whether a cub will be born," said Brandie Smith, senior curator at the National Zoo. "We have the nursery ready."

The zoo has set up a Web cam trained on Mei Xiang so visitors can observe the panda.

Smith said it is difficult for giant pandas to get pregnant because females only ovulate once a year for two days.

Mei Xiang and her mate Tian Tian are a little bit romantically challenged, Smith said, so Mei Xiang was inseminated with Tian Tian's sperm in January.

In 2005, Mei Xiang gave birth to her only cub, Tai Shan.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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