News & Politics

There Could Be a New Baby Panda in a Few Days

Mama panda Mei Xiang. Photograph courtesy Smithsonian's National Zoo.

Giant panda Mei Xiang has “tissue consistent with fetal development,” according to the results of an ultrasound viewed by veterinarians at Smithsonian’s National Zoo. This means Mei Xiang could deliver a baby panda within a few days, the zoo says in a press release.

Mei Xiang’s ultrasound. Image courtesy Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

It could also presage Mei Xiang resorbing or miscarrying, the zoo cautions. Mei Xiang had a pseudopregnancy just last year. It’s very difficult to know when pandas are pregnant–“their fetuses are so small that even veteran panda keepers can confuse the bear’s poop for a growing baby,” Smithsonian Magazine said in 2015. It’s not clear why, but some mammals resorb fetuses.

Mei Xiang is 22 and has three surviving cubs, all of whom have been repatriated to China: Tai Shan aka Butterstick, Bao Bao, and Bei Bei.

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.