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Zoo Officials Hope Panda Is Pregnant

Giant pandas Bai Yun and Gao Gao mated over the weekend, and San Diego Zoo keepers are now on watch to see if it results in a pregnancy, park officials announced today.

San Diego Zoo's 17-year-old giant panda Bai Yun.
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Above: San Diego Zoo's 17-year-old giant panda Bai Yun.

The two, normally kept in different enclosures, were put together when Bai Yun showed signs of being in heat.

Zoo spokeswoman Yadira Galindo said the two mated on Sunday, tried to do so but failed on Monday, and spent time together Tuesday but showed no interest in coupling.

Their mating has led to the birth of a single cub in four previous occasions dating back to 2003.

Bai Yun, 20, could become the oldest giant panda known to give birth if she really is pregnant. A birth would be expected in late this summer or in the fall, according to the zoo.

Examinations of Bai Yun did not reveal age-related conditions that would prevent pregnancy, zoo officials said. They said both pandas are in good health and showed signs of breeding interest.

Bai Yun has had four cubs at the zoo with Gao Gao and a fifth with another male. The most recent, Yun Zi, is still at the zoo.

The San Diego Zoo is one of four in the U.S. with giant pandas, and partners with China to conduct research on the species. Offspring are sent to China around three years after they are born.

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