Panda Fakes Pregnancy to Receive More Food, Special Treatment

Panda Fakes Pregnancy to Receive More Food, Special Treatment

Experts suggest that 'phantom pregnancy' is becoming common among the endangered animals. Lately, a giant panda, Ai Hin, experienced it.

Ai Hin exhibited symptoms of pregnancy at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre. Officials at the centre were anxious to have the world's first live-broadcast cub delivery, but their hopes were dashed after it was found that Ai Hin was not pregnant and was doing so to get more attention and more food.

Ai Hin's behavioural and physiological indexes returned to normal. After realizing that it was not pregnant, the center has turned off the live broadcast.

Generally, the breeding centre shifts pandas that are considered to be pregnant to separate rooms having air conditioners. In fact, they are given around-the clock care and they also get more fruits, buns and bamboo.

After realizing the difference in treatment, many clever pandas fake pregnancy for their advantage to enjoy comfortable living. Wu Kongju, an expert, was of the view that many animals continue to exhibit pregnancy behaviour as they are well aware of the perks they will receive.

Six-year-old Ai Hin showed pregnancy behaviours including reduced appetite, less mobility and change in hormones. But, later it was found that it was forged. Experts were of the view that it is not easy to know that a panda is pregnant as its fetus is quite small. Therefore, it is difficult to determine the pregnancy through an ultrasound scan. Natural habitat of the panda is the mountainous south-west of China.

These pandas have low reproductive rate and they face pressure from factors like habitat loss. A decline has been seen in their population. In China, there are around 1,600 pandas living in the wild and another 300 are in captivity. "Only 24% of females in captivity give birth, posing a serious threat to the survival of the species", said experts.

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