24-Hour Pregnancy Watch Begins for Mei Xiang

Luck be a panda tonight

By Carissa DiMargo
|  Friday, Apr 23, 2010  |  Updated 1:16 PM EDT
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You weren't really planning on getting any work done today after 4, were you? Hey, it's Friday! And Mei Xiang is going on a 24-hour pregnancy watch at 4 p.m. Time to gather the coworkers for obsessive refreshing of the panda webcam.

Zoo scientists have announced that Mei Xiang's hormones are now approaching baseline level. Within 24 hours of reaching baseline, Mei Xiang will either have a new cub for us to obsess over... or not.

The giant panda's behaviors and hormone levels have been indicating either a pregnancy or a pseudopregnancy. One will cause most of D.C.'s workforce to grind to a halt for the next twelve months or so, while we e-mail photos amongst ourselves and remain riveted by the Zoo's flickr stream. The other one will just make us resolve to keep saving money to someday visit that panda kindergarten in China.

A corps of more than 40 volunteers and staffer will monitor Mei Xiang via both keeper interactions and the 38 cameras set up throughout her habitat. They'll record her behavior both continuously and at five-minute intervals.

Visits to the National Zoo's pandacam will be limited to five minutes per session... but there's no limit to how often you can refresh. Pour some coffee; it could be a looooong night.

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