Zoo officials: Panda Bai Yun not pregnant - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Zoo officials: Panda Bai Yun not pregnant

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Four months after the female giant panda Bai Yun mated with her companion, San Diego Zoo officials announced Tuesday that she is not pregnant.

Bai Yun, eight days short of her 20th birthday, will return to public display Wednesday, the zoo announced.

Since Bai Yun mated with the male Gao Gao in April, animal care staff have monitored her behavior and hormone levels, performed regular ultrasounds and gathered thermal images.

Researchers from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research said they recognized clues from previous pregnancies, such as increases of progesterone, changes in her level of activity and suppression of appetite. However, ultrasound images never revealed a fetus.

They said they do not understand why Bai Yun failed to become pregnant this year, but they will continue to study the data to learn more about giant panda pregnancies, which are not well understood.

Bai Yun is the mother of five, including her latest, 2-year-old Yun Zi. Zoo officials were unaware of her pregnancy with Yun Zi until about a week before he was born.

The gestation period for giant pandas runs 85-130 days. According to the zoo, female pandas can keep a fertilized egg suspended in their uterus for two to three months before it is implanted and begins to develop.

The giant pandas are on loan from China, and offspring must be returned after they turn 3 years old.

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