The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington D.C. has announced that giant panda Mei Xiang is pregnant and is expected to give birth soon.
Veterinarians took Mei Xiang for an ultrasound on August 14 and discovered she was carrying a fetus.
The 22-year-old panda could deliver the cub in the coming days, according to the zoo’s announcement on Monday, CNN reported.
“Her fetus was kicking + swimming in the amniotic fluid, and its spine + blood flow were visible,” the zoo said, South China Morning Post reported. “We hope to have a healthy cub in the coming days!”
🐼🤞 Our vets detected tissue consistent with fetal development during giant panda Mei Xiang’s ultrasound today. It’s too early to tell if the tissue is a viable developing fetus. 🐾 Paws crossed for a healthy cub or cubs. Watch live on the 🖥️ panda cam! https://t.co/hYJCDyVbuB
— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) August 14, 2020
The announcement comes as the world continues its fight against COVID-19.
“In the middle of a pandemic, this is a joyful moment we can all get excited about,” Don Neiffer, chief veterinarian at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo who did the ultrasound, said. “We are optimistic that very shortly she may give birth to a healthy cub or cubs.”
A team of experts has been supporting the giant panda since she was first artificially inseminated in March using the frozen semen of the zoo’s male panda, Tian Tian.
“This is another milestone in our long-standing and successful mission-critical 47-year giant panda conservation program and collaboration with Chinese colleagues to study, care for and help save the giant panda and its native habitat,” Smithsonian’s National Zoo director, Steven Monfort, said in March.
Mei Xiang, who had already given birth to three other cubs, arrived at the National Zoo in December 2000 along with her partner, Tian Tian, according to Smithsonian National Zoo.