Beijing: A giant panda who disappointed her fans with a ‘phantom pregnancy’ in 2014 gave birth to a cub today with more than a lakh of people viewing her delivery online.
The male cub, weighing 145 grams, was born at 6:06 am (local time) at Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.
The baby panda, the first born worldwide this year, and the mother are in good health. Staff at the research center made a live broadcast of Ai Hin, 9, available on the Internet from 7 PM on Wednesday as she was exhibiting prenatal behaviour.
Before then, she had shown signs of pregnancy, including increased production of progestational hormones and reduced appetite for more than 20 days, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
In August 2014, viewers tuning in to a 48-hour live feed of the supposedly pregnant Ai Hin were surprised when she never gave birth. It was later discovered that she was not actually pregnant.
Phantom pregnancies — an abnormal condition in which signs of pregnancy are present in a mother who is actually not pregnant — are common among pandas.
Non-pregnant pandas are often subject to progestational hormone changes and scientists who work with pandas say the “mothers” sometimes notice differences in their treatment and carry on with the pregnant behaviour in anticipation of greater comforts and attention.
“After showing prenatal signs, mothers-to-be are moved into single rooms with air conditioning and round-the-clock care. They also receive more buns, fruit and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life,” Wu Kongju with the center said.
Ai Hin was one of two twins born to Mei Mei in Japan in December 2006. The twins were returned to China in 2012.