National Zoo's Giant Panda is Not Pregnant

If you've had your hopes up for another baby panda at the National Zoo this year, you're going to have to settle for the baby red pandas. Giant panda Mei Xiang is not pregnant.

The update the zoo announced on Thursday comes after the zoo said Mei Xiang was exhibiting signs of pregnancy, such as increased hormones, nest building and sleeping more beginning on July 28.

Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated twice on May 25 with the sperm of her zoomate, Tian Tian. But giant pandas’ hormones and behaviors often imitate a pregnancy, according to the zoo.

The Smithsonian’s panda team reported that there was a rise in Mei Xiang’s urinary progesterone levels at the end of July, but since she did not give birth to a cub, it was indicated that she was either experiencing a pseudopregnancy or did concieve with Tian Tian, but reabsorbed the embryo before it could be viable.

Mei Xiang, at 19-years-old, is nearing the end of her reproductive ages, but there are pandas who have had cubs when they were older than she is now. She is already the mom of three cubs, though two of them have been relocated to China, and the third will soon join them.

The panda house will return to its normal operating hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 16, according to the Smithsonian.

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