Phantom panda becomes mum for real

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

Beijing: The giant panda that let down her fans with a “phantom pregnancy” in 2014 gave birth to a cub on Friday morning, with more than 1,00,000 people viewing her delivery online. The male cub, weighing 145 grams, was born at 6.06 am at Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre in Sichuan province.

A YouTube grab of the pandaA YouTube grab of the panda

Staff with the research centre made a live telecast of Ai Hin, 9, available on the internet from 7 pm on Wednesday, as she was exhibiting prenatal behaviour. 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 discovered that she was not actually pregnant. She showed signs of pregnancy but her behaviour 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 behaviour in anticipation of greater comforts and attention. Ai Hin was one of two twins born to Mei Mei in Japan in December 2006. The twins were returned to China in 2012.

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