D.C. Panda May Be Pregnant: Why Is Breeding Them So Tough?
With all eyes on the National Zoo's possibly pregnant giant panda, get the facts on what makes breeding the animals so difficult.
The Smithsonian National Zoo has detected a possible fetus in an ultrasound of its giant panda, Mei Xiang. This is a first for the zoo’s panda breeding efforts.
The discovery of what veterinarians think is a 1.5 inch (4-centimeter) long fetus means Mei could give birth as early as next week, according to a statement released after the August 19 ultrasound.
"Our success at identifying a fetus during this week’s ultrasound procedure was really the result of preparation and hard work colliding with opportunity," Don Neiffer, the zoo's chief veterinarian, says in an email.
Mei has rarely cooperated with past ultrasounds, and when the zoo staff called Mei to participate in the August 19 examination, "we were not expecting her to