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May 7, 2016

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For Ai Hin, it’s the real thing this time

A GIANT panda that let down her fans with a “phantom pregnancy” in 2014 gave birth to a cub yesterday, with more than 100,000 people viewing the delivery online.

The male cub, weighing 145 grams, was born at 6:06am at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

The baby panda, the first born worldwide this year, and the mother are in good health.

Staff at the center made a live broadcast of Ai Hin, 9, available on the Internet from 7pm on Wednesday, as she was exhibiting prenatal behavior.

Before then, she had shown signs of pregnancy, including increased production of progestational hormones and reduced appetite, for more than 20 days.

In August 2014, viewers tuning in to a 48-hour live feed of the supposedly pregnant Ai Hin were surprised when she never gave birth.

It was later discovered that she was not actually pregnant.

She had shown signs of pregnancy but her behavior and physiological indexes later returned to normal.

Phantom pregnancies are common among pandas. Non-pregnant pandas are often subject to progestational hormone changes, and scientists who work with pandas say the “mothers” sometimes notice differences in their treatment and carry on with the pregnant behavior in anticipation of greater comforts and attention.


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