Despite promising initial signs, which seemed to suggest that the River Safari’s female giant panda Jia Jia was pregnant, the giant pandas gifted to Singapore from the People’s Republic of China will not be conceiving any cubs after all.
Jia Jia underwent artificial insemination on 18th April after she was unsuccessful at mating with her male counterpart, Kai Kai. In July, she started displaying signs of pregnancy – for example, eating less bamboo, sleeping more and having elevated hormonal levels – which raised the hopes that Jia Jia had been successfully inseminated.
However, it is also well known that female giant pandas are prone to pseudopregnancies, which is when the female pandas display signs of pregnancy but are not actually pregnant. Experts worldwide are often not able to determine a panda’s pregnancy status until a late stage. Some experts have even observed that female pandas may even be able to feign pregnancy in order to receive better treatment from their keepers, especially since pregnant pandas are often lavished with attention, comfort and quality food.
“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.” said Chief Life Sciences Officer Dr Cheng Wen-Haur from Wildlife Reserves Singapore.