China

Panda Watch Is Over: Mei Xiang Is Not Pregnant, Zoo Says

We're going to have to wait a while longer for a new bundle of panda joy. 

National Zoo officials hoped 19-year-old giant panda Mei Xiang was pregnant, but it turns out she was experiencing what's called a pseudopregnancy, officials said Thursday.

Zoo endocrinologists monitored the panda's hormones after she was artificially inseminated in March. The zoo temporarily closed the panda house on Jun. 24, expecting a pregnancy. 

Mei Xiang's hormones did rise in early May, which indicated she could give birth to a cub in 40 to 50 days. But then her hormones returned to “baseline” levels on Sunday, indicating she had a pseudopregnancy. A final ultrasound conducted on Thursday confirmed there was no developing fetus. 

Mei Xiang has given birth at the National Zoo to three surviving panda cubs with 20-year-old panda Tian Tian: Tai Shan, Bao Bao and Bei Bei. 

Tai Shan and Bao Bao now live in China. Bei Bei, the youngest, will be moved to China by the time he turns 4 years old in August 2019. 

The panda house reopened Thursday. Visitors can also view the pandas through the 24-hour panda cam on the zoo’s website.

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