Berlin Zoo says panda Meng Meng is pregnant | News | DW | 27.08.2019
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Berlin Zoo says panda Meng Meng is pregnant

Meng Meng, a female giant panda, is expecting at least one cub, the Berlin Zoo announced, saying it was "overjoyed" with the news. Meng Meng's cub would be the first baby panda to be born in Germany.

Meng Meng, a giant panda on loan from China and one of the stars of the Berlin Zoo, is pregnant, the zoo announced on Tuesday.

An ultrasound revealed the good news — marking a possible breakthrough in the zoo's efforts to breed Meng Meng and her male partner, Jiao Qing, since they arrived at the zoo in 2017.

The zoo posted a video of the ultrasound on Twitter, saying it shows a "mini-panda with a fast-beating heart."

Meng Meng is expecting at least one cub, which the zoo says could be delivered within the next one or two weeks.

If all goes well, Meng Meng's cub would be the first baby panda to be born in Germany.

"We are overjoyed with the news. For endangered species like the pandas, every offspring is a great gift," zoo director Andreas Knieriem said in a statement.

Zoo on panda baby-watch

Already two weeks ago, the zoo in the German capital voiced hopes that Meng Meng was pregnant, but it proved difficult to get the 92-kilogram (203-pound) panda to lie still for an examination.

The zoo said that its team of veterinarians and biologists as well as Chinese panda breeding experts are keeping an eye on Meng Meng and that night shifts have been implemented to monitor the mother-to-be if she goes into labor.

After around six to eight months in the womb, panda cubs are born blind with very little fur — often weighing only 90 to 130 grams (3 to 4.6 ounces).

Pandas are notoriously difficult to mate, as females are only able to get pregnant once a year in a time window of 24 to 72 hours.

Should the birth be successful, Berlin will not be able to keep the offspring. As part of the panda's loan agreement, any cubs will be returned to China after two to four years once they no longer need their mother.

Meng Meng and Jiao Qing (whose names mean "Sweet Dream" and "Darling" in Chinese) made headlines when they arrived at the Berlin Zoo in 2017 as part of a 15-year loan agreement that Chancellor Angela Merkel worked out with China.

Watch video 01:52

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rs/rc (AFP, dpa)

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