Panda Updates – Wednesday, August 14
Even when a female giant panda is not pregnant, she may still exhibit behaviors or undergo physiological changes as if she is. This phenomenon is called pseudopregnancy. Because certain behavioral changes and hormonal indicators might suggest pregnancy, it can be hard to tell if a giant panda is actually pregnant (although in our case, we know that Lun Lun is not). Research looking at certain protein markers, like ceruloplasmin, to confirm pregnancy in giant pandas has been studied but more research is needed (Wilis et. al). Lun Lun is no longer breeding, so obviously we know the signs she has been exhibiting are signs of a pseudopregnancy. Lun Lun is at the final stages of a pseudopregnancy, which means we are observing the shift in her activity levels. Behaviors such as sleeping more often, creating nests out of the materials provided in dens, and eating less bamboo are common during a pseudopregnancy, and all are normal. We are starting to observe her returning to regular activity levels and increasing her bamboo intake, which are both indicators she’s coming out of it.
If you’d like to learn more about some of these interesting complexities, check out the article below!
Keeper I, Mammals