Panda Ying Ying not pregnant, says Hong Kong’s Ocean Park

The female panda, which is in its sixth mating season, began showing pregnancy symptoms in late July, but these signs faded this month

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 August, 2016, 8:31am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 October, 2017, 3:51pm

Hong Kong’s Ocean Park has confirmed that female panda Ying Ying, which is in its sixth mating season, is not pregnant, after showing pregnancy symptoms on and off in the past few weeks.

The 10-year-old giant panda had been mating with fellow Ocean Park panda resident Le Le since April, and at the end of July, started displaying some typical pregnancy symptoms, such as reduced food intake and increased resting time.

However, these signs began to fade in the middle of this month and eventually disappeared. The park later confirmed that Ying Ying was not pregnant after a detailed review and discussion with experts from Wolong’s China Conservation and Research Centre.

“This is not unexpected as panda pregnancies are filled with unknowns, and pseudo, or false, pregnancies are often experienced,” Ocean Park said in a statement.

The news marks the end of the sixth fruitless mating season of the Sichuan-born female giant panda, whose 3.5cm-long foetus last year was found without a heartbeat after 130 days of pregnancy.

“We will definitely give it another try next year,” said the park’s spokeswoman Una Lau. She added that it was not easy for female giant pandas to get pregnant as they had only one oestrus cycle each year.

Ying Ying is now spending more time being awake and active, and is regaining her appetite gradually, the park said in the statement. Its hormonal levels have also returned to baseline levels, it added.

Although the Ocean Park has to wait another year to begin trying for its first giant panda cub, it is not all bad news: Jia Jia – the park’s oldest giant panda – is celebrating its 38th birthday this month. Last year, Jia Jia set world records for being the oldest panda under human care at the age of 37.