Lun Lun The Giant Panda Is Expecting!
ATLANTA – August 18, 2016 – Lun Lun the giant panda has been confirmed to be expecting a cub. On August 16, the Zoo Atlanta Veterinary Team obtained an ultrasound image of a fetus measuring 0.78 centimeter (a third of an inch), and supporting hormone analyses and monitoring of Lun Lun’s behavior suggest that a birth could take place within three weeks. Beginning on Monday, August 22, the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams will begin 24- hour monitoring of Lun Lun as she nests in her off-exhibit den in The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center.
The teams remain optimistic that the newest addition to the Zoo Atlanta giant panda program is on the way; however, there is still no certainty of an impending birth. Fetal reabsorption is not uncommon in giant pandas, so the possibility remains that the pregnancy could fail. Because of the difficulty in obtaining ultrasounds of Lun Lun’s entire uterus, there is also no certainty that there is not more than one fetus present.
Lun Lun was artificially inseminated on March 28, 2016. Since that time, the teams have continued to review hormone analyses conducted by David Kersey, PhD, an expert in giant panda endocrinology from Western University of Health Sciences. The Veterinary Team will continue to pursue regular ultrasounds, but as ultrasound participation is voluntary for Lun Lun, there is no guarantee of additional ultrasounds before a birth takes place.
Giant pandas represent Zoo Atlanta’s most significant financial investment in conservation. Fewer than 1,900 giant pandas are estimated to remain in the wild in China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, and more than 1,200 of these live inside nature reserves. Support from Zoo Atlanta benefits wild giant pandas living on eight of these reserves.
A new cub, which would be the first giant panda born in the U.S. in 2016, would be the sixth for 18-year-old Lun Lun and 18-year-old male Yang Yang. The pair’s first, second and third offspring, Mei Lan, Xi Lan and Po, now reside at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China. Their fourth and fifth, 3-year-old females Mei Lun and Mei Huan, reside at Zoo Atlanta and are the only twin giant pandas in the U.S.
Tune in to PandaCam hosted by Animal Planet L!VE on zooatlanta.org to join Lun Lun and the Zoo Atlanta family in preparing for a birth, and stay tuned for updates.
Rachel Davis Director of Communications
404.624.2812 – office
404.309.2238 – cell
About the giant panda program at Zoo Atlanta
The giant panda program at Zoo Atlanta dates to the mid-1990s, prior to the debut of giant panda pair Lun Lun and Yang Yang, who arrived in 1999 on loan from China. Zoo Atlanta initiated its giant panda loan with its primary Chinese partners, the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens (CAZG), the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and the Chengdu Zoo. Zoo Atlanta scientists developed a program focused on using behavioral and veterinary research to understand, support, and lengthen maternal care; improve reproductive success and well-being; understand giant pandas’ cognitive and perceptual abilities; and improve health, including preventative medicine. Zoo Atlanta’s relationship with the Chengdu Research Base and Chengdu Zoo also led to the creation of conservation education departments at these institutions – the first of their kind in Chinese zoos. In 2012, Zoo Atlanta and partners Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park, Memphis Zoo and San Diego Zoo Global earned the prestigious International Conservation Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for their long-term commitment to the species. To date, five giant panda cubs have been born at Zoo Atlanta: Mei Lan (2006); Xi Lan (2008); Po (2010); and Mei Lun and Mei Huan (2013). Mei Lan, Xi Lan and Po currently reside at the Chengdu Research Base.
About Zoo Atlanta
Viewed as one of the finest zoological institutions in the U.S. and a proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Zoo Atlanta has a mission to inspire value and preservation of wildlife through a unique mix of education and outdoor family experiences. From well-known native wildlife to critically endangered species on the brink of extinction, the Zoo offers memorable close encounters with more than 1,000 animals from around the world. The Zoo’s newest destination, Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, featuring more than 70 species in a 111,000 square-foot complex, opened in 2015 and is the world’s first LEED Gold-certified reptile and amphibian exhibit. Zoo highlights include Mei Lun and Mei Huan, the only giant panda twins in the U.S.; North America’s largest zoological collection of great apes; and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Up-close-and-personal animal experiences include behind-the-scenes Wild Encounters with African elephants, Aldabra giant tortoises, giant pandas, lemurs and warthogs. Zoo Atlanta is open daily with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper talks, interactive wildlife shows, education programs and special events run year-round. For more information, visit zooatlanta.org.