A giant panda slated to be the star of the first-ever live broadcast of the birth of panda cubs has lost the role -- after it was discovered the bear is not pregnant after all, Chinese state media reported.
Not only was it a phantom(幽灵,幻影) pregnancy, but zookeepers suspect the panda, Ai Hin, may have been faking it to improve her quality of life, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding told Xinhua on Monday.
Ai Hin, age 6, had shown signs of pregnancy, including a change in appetite, moving less and an increase in progestational hormone(孕激素) in July, according to Xinhua.
But after almost two months, she began acting normally again, zookeepers said.
Experts say pandas sometimes carry on the behaviors associated with early pregnancy after noticing that they get preferential treatment(优待), the news agency reported.
"After showing prenatal signs, the 'mothers-to-be' are moved into single rooms with air conditioning and around-the-clock care," Wu Kongju, an expert at the Chengdu base, is quoted as saying.
"They also receive more buns, fruits and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life."
The birth of Ai Hin's supposed cub and its progress in its early days, from its first cries to acquiring its distinctive black-and-white fur, were due to be broadcast online to panda lovers in China and worldwide.