Expecting Panda Gaining No Weight

Panda cub due in August

In many ways, local gal Bai Yun has the perfect pregnancy.

San Diego Zoo officials said on Wednesday that their prized giant panda is pregnant again. Bai Yun, 18, is a mother of four.

“This is Bai Yun’s fifth pregnancy that we’ve confirmed, and just like the first one, we’re very excited,” zoo conservation program specialist Megan Owen said. “It’s always exciting to have a panda cub arriving."

Unlike her human counterparts, Bai Yun hasn’t put on any pregnancy pounds -- nor is she likely to.

“They really don’t gain weight,” Owen said. “Actually, one of the first signs we see, letting us know that she’s probably pregnant, is a decrease in appetite. So, because the panda cub is so small as it’s developing, there’s no weight associated with that -- sometimes even some weight loss because of the decreased appetite.”

Another thing Bai Yun and other panda moms have going for them: A new cub weighs about 4 ounces -- about the size of a stick of butter.

Two heartbeats were detected during an ultrasound performed on Bai Yun , but that does not necessarily mean Bia Yun will bear twins. Caretakers saw the same thing in 2003, 2005 and 2007 when Bai Yun was pregnant, but in all three of those cases, one of the fetuses was re-absorbed while inside the womb.

The cub(s) due date is in early August and any offspring will be named, based on a Chinese tradition, 100 days afterward.

And whose the father, anyway?

“Gao Gao has done a great job of … doing his role and breeding in the spring -- it’s an important role,” she said, laughing.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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