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National Zoo Panda Could Give Birth In 40-50 Days, Say Officials

10:30 PM, Aug 20, 2012   |    comments
courtesy: Meghan Murphy, National Zoo
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) --  National Zoo scientists say a giant panda could give birth to a cub in 40 to 50 days after they detected a secondary rise in urinary progesterone.

According to the scientists, 14-year-old Mei Xiang will either give birth or experience the end of a pseudopregnancy. Since 2007, Mei Xiang has had five consecutive pseudopregnancies but "returned to a more normal estrous cycle this year," say scientists. 

She went into heat in April and was artificially inseminated twice that month. Since then, scientists have conducted weekly hormonal analyses on urine samples from Mei Xiang and veterinarians have conducted ultrasounds frequently. They say that panda fetuses do not start developing until the final weeks of gestation and it may be too early at this point to detect a fetus in Mei Xiang. 

Mei Xiang gave birth to her only cub, Tai Shan, in 2005. Tai Shan is now at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda.

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