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Panda article May

As few as 1,600 giant pandas live in the mountain forest of central China.  They are the best recognized and rarest animals in the world.  As such, they have come to symbolize endangered species and conservation efforts.  Giant panda Mei Xiang and Tian Tian are at the Washington DC National Zoo on a ten-year loan from the China Wildlife Conservation Association.  They are the focus of an ambitious research, conservation and breeding program. 

Mei Xian and  Tian Tian had a baby three years ago, named Tai  Shan.  Although he weighed less than two pounds at birth, during his last physical exam earlier this year month, he weighed 190 lbs.  

Scientists have noticed a slight drop in the hormone progestin for Mei Xian and thought that she may be pregnant.   She has been spending more time in her den and recently cradled a pear as a baby instead of eating it.  In the last few days, via ultrasound, it was determined that Mei is not really pregnant, but is experiencing a pseudopregnancy, which is common among giant pandas.

There is such interest in the pandas, that the Zoo has installed a 24 hour “panda cam” which is manned 24 hours per day by volunteers.  If you’d like to see it, you can do so by going to the website of the National Zoo website at:  

http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/GiantPandas/

Source: Smithsonian National Zoological Park

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