Volunteers Beware, Pandas are Sneaky!

Volunteers Beware, Pandas are Sneaky!

The following story may distress some readers. It is however a particularly important story to tell as it highlights the severity of the situations we sometimes find families in.

What was supposed to be the world’s first live broadcast of a panda birth turned out to be a ‘Giant’ lie.

Last month Ai Hin, a six-year-old giant panda at the Chengdu Research Centre was due to give birth on live TV, but the show was called off when keepers discovered she wasn’t actually pregnant.

After showing prenatal signs, the expecting mothers are moved into luxury panda rooms with air-conditioning and around the clock care. They also receive more buns, fruits and bamboo than normal. Ai Hin was enjoying all the advantages of being pregnant, without actually being pregnant! Experts believe the very clever Ai Hin may have caught on to the benefits of pregnancy and decided to milk it for all she could.

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Experts believe the very clever Ai Hin may have caught on to the benefits of pregnancy and decided to milk it for all she could.

But it turns out “phantom pregnancies” are all too common in the giant panda community, and elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Of course figuring out whether a panda is pregnant is no easy task. Despite their large size the giant panda fetus is actually quite small. Too small to be picked up by an ultrasound.

There are approximately 2000-3000 pandas left in the wild and of the 300 or so in captivity only around a quarter of these will rear cubs. Despite being classified as endangered pandas seem to have no sense of self-preservation. Often pandas may give birth to more than one cub, but only one baby will receive care in the wild. On top of this, spontaneous abortion is common among their species with lingering hormone changes causing them to appear pregnant for some time.

So to those Volunteers participating in our upcoming panda trip, don’t be fooled by these sneaky yet adorable bears.

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