Lun Lun the giant panda is expecting
Monday, August 22, 2016
Pregnancy confirmed via ultrasound and hormone analyses; 24-hour birthwatch begins August 22
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.