Mei Xiang Not Pregnant, Dashing Our Hopes and Dreams

Giant panda's not pregnant -- and we need a support group

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mehgan Murphy/Smithsonian's National Zoo
    Let 2011 be our year.

    That sound you hear? That's the collective weeping of everyone's who's already heard the devastating news. Now you, too, can sob along with the rest of us, because the National Zoo's female giant panda is not pregnant.

    That's right, she's been fooling us all into waiting for her weekly ultrasounds with bated breath.

    OK, or in more scientific terms, Mei Xiang has been experiencing a false, or pseudopregnancy. Last Thursday, she went on a 24-hour pregnancy watch as her hormone levels started to drop. Once the levels reached baseline, either she would deliver a tiny new cub... or not. Female giant pandas almost always have a pseudopregnancy when they ovulate but fail to conceive, say scientists at the zoo.

    Mei Xiang has been witnessed shredding bamboo and cradling her toys. She's been separated from her mate from Tian Tian and the Habitat was closed to public viewing to give her a quiet environment.

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    And we know, we get it, we're just... sad. Ever sine Tai Shan grew up and went off to panda college in China, things just haven't been the same around here.

    Zoo staff expect Mei Xiang's hormones and behavior to return to normal in the next few days, which includes an increase in appetite and energy.

    The panda habitat will reopen today at 10 a.m. Go on your lunch break and stand sadly and quietly. Bring tissues. Just in case.