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Singapore giant panda "not pregnant"

Xinhua, September 23, 2015 Adjust font size:

Despite promising signs and after months of monitoring, River Safari's female panda, Jia Jia, will not be delivering a cub this year, said Singapore's River Safari where the two cuties are kept on Wednesday.

Based on scientific data gathered from her behaviors and hormone levels, the birthing window has now passed and panda caretakers concluded that the seven-year-old bear is not pregnant.

Female panda Jia Jia underwent artificial insemination on April 18 after an unsuccessful mating attempt with her male counterpart, Kai Kai. Last month, when celebrating their birthdays, staff at the River Safari said that since July, Jia Jia was seen eating less bamboo, sleeping more and her hormone levels were increasing - - all signs consistent with pregnancy or pseudopregnancy. However, giant pandas commonly display pseudopregnancies and experts worldwide are often not able to determine a panda's pregnancy status until a late stage.

Cheng Wen-Haur, chief life sciences officer of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said "Our team of vets and keepers were cautiously optimistic in welcoming a baby panda and while we cannot expect one this year, we are pleased and encouraged by the development of Kai Kai and Jia Jia. The past months have provided an invaluable learning experience for us in understanding the complex reproduction and biology of one of the world's most charismatic species, and we hope for better results next year."

Panda caretakers will review information and data collected in the last few months before the next breeding season for the bears begin around April. To get the pandas accustomed to physical contact with each other, keepers aim to bring the pandas together before the start of the mating season, River Safari added.

Kai Kai and Jia Jia, known as Wu Jie and Hu Bao respectively in China, arrived in the city state on Sept. 6, 2012. They will be staying in Singapore for 10 years. Endi