Over the years, we have often used words like “textbook” and “clockwork” to describe giant panda Bai Yun’s reproductive behavior. This year, however, has been different, and Bai Yun is reminding the San Diego Zoo’s Panda Team that we still have a lot to learn about pandas!
While much of what we’re observing of Bai Yun’s behavior and hormone levels is consistent with past pregnancies, we are still unsure of her status. As a result, while we think it is safe to say that we are all feeling a bit anxious, we are continuing our pregnancy monitoring efforts. Veterinarians are still conducting regular ultrasounds, and researchers and animal care staff are still doing all that needs to be done to perform thermal imaging and to monitor hormone levels and behavior.
The average gestation period for a panda is about 135 days. Interestingly, one of the longest gestation periods we have a record for is 184 days, and this record is held by Bai Yun’s mother, Dong Dong! We’re hopeful that we might still have a pregnancy but are watching with a scientific eye to see what new discoveries we might be able to make about the reproduction of giant pandas.