“Phantom pregnancies” are common among giant pandas – but keepers at her breeding center in Sichuan province believe six-year-old Ai Hin could be exhibiting learned behavior that marks her out as smarter than the average bear.
The giant panda started showing signs of pregnancy including reduced appetite and mobility in July, at which point she was chosen to star in a heavily-publicized first ever live birth. But after two months of observation, experts have told state news agency Xinhua that Ai Hin’s behavior and physiological tests returned to normal.
Wu Kongju, an expert at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Center where Ai Hin is kept, explained that not all “fake” pregnancies among the animals are just down to hormonal changes. “After showing prenatal signs, the ‘mothers-to-be’ are moved into single rooms with air conditioning and around-the-clock care,” Wu told Xinhua. “They also receive more buns, fruits and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life.”
Typical female behavior? Methinks it is obviously so …