Giant panda pregnancy facts

As China’s unofficial mascot and the symbol of the World Wildlife Fund, the giant panda is one of the most beloved animals in the world. Conservation efforts and breeding programs are currently in place to restore panda populations to their native habitat in the mountain forests of southwest China. One of the interesting evolutionary traits of the panda is their protruding wrist bone that acts like a thumb. Due to the fact that pandas reproduce so infrequently, it is very difficult for their population to recover from such a low point. Wildlife reserves have been set up in parts of China to make sure the pandas have a home, and care is taken to make sure they survive in the wild.
Although there are only 1600 pandas living in the wild, they naturally inhabit the mountain forests of southwest China. Giant female pandas are in heat -- or able to conceive -- only once per year for approximately two days. Eating LessWhen giant pandas are within 40 to 50 days of giving birth, they tend to lose their appetites, according to Live Science.
NestingRather than eating the bamboo given to them in captive settings such as zoos, a pregnant giant panda getting closer to her due date occupies herself with shredding the bamboo into little pieces to make a nest, according to Live Science.

Positive UltrasoundWhen a fetus shows up on ultrasound, researchers working with giant pandas become confident a pregnancy is in place.
A Cub is BornAs obvious as it sounds that the birth of a cub is a sign of panda pregnancy, it's one signal relied upon for confirmation, albeit slightly after the fact.
As the population in China continues to grow, pandas’ habitat gets taken over by development, pushing them into smaller and less livable areas.
After natural mating or artificial insemination, they often undergo what is called a pseudo pregnancy in which their bodies -- including hormonal levels -- experience all the signs of pregnancy without actually being pregnant.
This outward sign is relatively easy to detect as on average an adult giant panda eats 19 kilograms -- just short of 42 pounds -- of bamboo per day, according to World Wildlife Fund Panda Central. Such was the case at Zoo Atlanta in late October 2010 when months-long suspicion and hope that the zoo's 13-year-old giant panda Lun Lun conceived after being inseminated earlier in the year, as reported by NBC News. Researchers at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park regularly tell media reporting on the zoo's renowned breeding program that even with the use of ultrasound, they don't count on a pregnancy until a cub is born. In this small window of time, male and female pandas find each other through scents and calls similar to that of goats or sheep. Identifying the signs of pregnancy in this endangered species plays a guiding role in breeding programs worldwide.

This means adult giant pandas are dining up to 14 hours a day, according to Pandas International.
In the wild, pregnant pandas build a nest, lining it with material such as wood chips, birch or fir saplings and branches from rhododendron or bamboo to keep out damp and cold, as explained by Think Quest. Occasionally pandas will eat other available food, including small rodents, eggs, fish and other flora. If one type of bamboo is destroyed by development, it can leave the pandas with nothing to eat during the time it normally blooms, increasing the risk of starvation. Bamboo provides a good amount of water, but pandas need to supplement this with fresh water daily. A panda fetus can also go undetected because they don't begin to develop fully until the last couple weeks of pregnancy, according to NBC Washington.

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