The Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute may soon become home to a new baby panda, as the employees are suspecting that the female giant panda Mei Xiang is likely to be pregnant.
The National Zoo put out a message on its website, warning that the giant panda house is closed to give Mei Xiang a quiet environment, because “she is showing sensitivity to noise, which is consistent with the final stages of a pregnancy or pseudopregnancy.”
The other two pandas at the zoo, Bei Bei and Tian Tian, a male whose sperm was used to artificially impregnate Mei Xiang, can still be seen by visitors in outdoor yards, depending on the weather.
According to the zoo officials, Mei Xiang is demonstrating signs that could either mean pregnancy or pseudopregnancy, which is described as a physical state, where there are all the symptoms of pregnancy, except for the presence of a fetus.
Among the behavioral changes she is showing are sleeping a lot and building a structure using bamboo. She also now prefers sleeping inside the panda house, instead of the outdoor yards.
In June, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia welcomed a new red panda cub, after four-year-old Moonlight gave birth to a baby.
You can watch Mei Xiang and the other pandas live via the National Zoo’s “Giant Panda Cam,” which streams 24 hours a day.