Hong Kong giant panda Ying Ying is pregnant and due to give birth in a week’s time, Ocean Park officials have confirmed.
The 10-year-old giant panda was sent to Sichuan province in early February for mating opportunities under the National Giant Panda Breeding Program.
During her stay at the base, she attempted mating with two male giant pandas for a total of five times and eventually mated once.
In order to maximize her chances of pregnancy, she also underwent artificial insemination.
The cub’s gender will not be known until its birth.
Since it is still uncertain whether Ying Ying got pregnant through natural mating or artificial insemination, the cub’s paternity will also be determined at birth.
Ocean Park veterinarian Lee Foo-khong said Ying Ying’s pregnancy was determined through multiple ultrasound tests.
During her pregnancy, the expectant mother’s appetite significantly dropped from her usual consumption of 10 kilograms of bamboo leaves a day to only 1 kg.
She also spends as long 22 hours a day resting, up from her usual 14 hours.
Howard Chuk Hau-chung, the park’s senior curator for terrestrial life sciences, said Ying Ying is going to deliver her baby naturally.
Experts monitoring her condition remain “cautiously optimistic” about the birth.
But since there is a possibility that Ying Ying may have a miscarriage or resorb the fetus, two experts from Sichuan have arrived at the park to help in monitoring the giant panda and providing pre- and post-natal care.
Ying Ying and her male partner Le Le arrived in Hong Kong in 2007 in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
The pair, however, have failed to produce a cub despite repeated attempts.
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