WASHINGTON (AP) — Zookeepers at Washington’s National Zoo are on furry black-and-white baby watch after concluding that venerable giant panda matriarch Mei Ziang is pregnant and could give birth this week.
It’s a welcome bit of good news amid a pandemic that kept the zoo shuttered for months.
The announcement of the pregnancy has already touched off a fresh round of panda-mania for one of the zoo’s feature attractions.
“We need this! We totally need this joy,” said zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson. “We are all in desperate need of these feel-goods.”
Although so-called “phantom pregnancies” are common with pandas and other large bears, Baker-Masson said an ultrasound scan revealed a “really strong-looking, fantastic fetus” that could be delivered this week.
Mei, at 22, would be the oldest giant panda to successfully give birth in the United States. The oldest in the world gave birth in China at age 23.
Viewership on the zoo’s panda-cam has increased 800 percent.