Fu Ni underwent artificial insemination in October last year, and last week her hormone levels indicated she might have been preparing to give birth.
But the zoo says while she went through a “pseudo-labour” over the weekend, including contractions and heavy breathing, the time has now passed for her to have delivered a baby.
Senior panda keeper Simone Davey says her team had been treating Fu Ni as though she was pregnant but were never able to confirm a cub.
“During a pseudo pregnancy, hormonal changes and behaviours are identical to those of a true pregnancy, making it very difficult to determine if a giant panda is actually pregnant or not,” she said.
“The only definitive way to confirm pregnancy in pandas is through a comprehensive ultrasound examination where a foetus can be seen in the last few weeks of a pregnancy.
“While Fu Ni has allowed us to ultrasound her for short periods, and the ultrasounds showed some swelling of the uterus and placenta thickening, we weren’t able to confirm a foetus.”
Since going through the pseudo labour Fu Ni has adopted a toy and spends the day cradling and holding it close to her chest.
Davey says such behaviour is expected and keepers will continue to monitor her closely and eventually help her to move on from the toy.
Zoos SA chief executive Elaine Bensted says despite the lack of success during the most recent breeding season, officials still have hopes that Fu Ni will become a mother at some stage.
“We have always known that breeding the Southern Hemisphere’s only giant pandas was going to be incredibly challenging,” she said.
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