Researchers who have taken care of giant panda Ying Ying at Ocean Park are devastated about her miscarriage because they developed close bonds with her. Some accompanied the panda to Sichuan province for mating attempts between February and July, a senior researcher said. The 13 researchers were initially excited when they last week confirmed that 10-year-old Ying Ying was pregnant for the first time. But when they saw from ultrasound images that the foetus had broken down, some even cried, said Howard Chuk Hau-chung, Ocean Park’s senior curator for terrestrial life sciences. READ MORE: Suffering miscarriage of cub, Ying Ying would've been the first panda mum to give birth in Hong Kong "Including me, we treat Ying Ying as a family member. I take care of her and we spend time together every day," Chuk told an RTHK programme today. The panda could tell the level of friendship or intimacy with each researcher, he said. “If you and I come to play with Ying Ying, she will only play with me because I spend more time with her and she knows me.” “Even among our teammates, she can tell who is closer to her.” Ocean Park said yesterday the foetus was being reabsorbed into the animal’s body and was no longer a viable pregnancy. It is unclear why this happened. Chuk said the team had been trying to make Ying Ying pregnant for several years, through artificial fertilisation and matching with another male panda at Ocean Park, Le Le. But the attempts failed. “The peak season for mating lasts only 72 hours per year,” he added. READ MORE: Your panda questions answered as Ying Ying prepares for historic cub birth in Hong Kong The pregnancy resulted from a natural mating with a male panda at a panda research centre in Wolong, Sichuan in February. Chuk said the research team would closely monitor Ying Ying’s condition, which remained healthy. There was a chance that the remaining parts of the foetus might be ejected as excreta, he said. If this happened, the park’s researchers would try to collect them so they could look for clues as to why the miscarriage took place, he said. Pandas would eat their own excreta so as not to leave any track for potential predators, he added. Until Ying Ying had completed the pregnancy cycle, probably in the coming week, the park would prevent visitors from seeing her so she could enjoy a quiet environment.