A giant Panda in China faked her own pregnancy to gain extra care and improve her lifestyle.
“After showing prenatal signs, the ‘mothers-to-be’ are moved into single rooms with air conditioning and around-the-clock care,” Panda expert Wu Kongju told Xinhua. “They also receive more buns, fruits and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life.”
Ai Hin, age 6, of the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Center had shown signs of pregnancy, including a change in appetite, moving less and an increase in progestational hormone in July, according to Xinhua.
The female is fertile for no more than three days a year, and the time span for a pregnancy is from 80 to 200 days, according to the Chengdu base. Scientists closely monitor behavioral and physiological signs, but it’s often a guessing game.
Researchers said that following a two-month observation, Ai Hin’s behaviors returned to normal.
Giant pandas have notoriously difficult pregnancies, with only 24 percent of female pandas in captivity giving birth. Even if the pregnancy is real, baby pandas have very low survival rates. According to the Chengdu base, only a third to a half of pandas born in Chinese captivity manage to survive past infancy.
Pandas are under the threat of extinction. There are roughly 300 pandas in captivity, and there is estimated to be roughly 1,600 pandas in the wild — many of whom are targeted by poachers.