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National Zoo giant panda Mei Xiang is not pregnant after all

Mei Xiang
Giant panda Mei Xiang at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo (Skip Brown/Smithsonian’s National Zoo)

There will be no new baby panda at National Zoo this year.

The zoo has announced that Mei Xiang has been only having a pseudopregnancy after the latest ultrasound Thursday confirmed there was no developing fetus.

Mei Xiang has been showing signs of a pregnancy since she was artificially inseminated March 1, though that’s because giant pandas’ behavior and hormones mimic a pregnancy even if they are experiencing a pseudopregnancy, according to National Zoo.

Giant panda pregnancies and pseudopregnancies can last between three and six months, meaning Mei Xiang is expected to return to her normal routine after a few more weeks.

The panda exhibit at National Zoo was closed last week to give Mei Xiang space as it was still unclear if she was pregnant. Excitement had been building about the possibility that she was pregnant again.

Mei Xiang, who turns 20 on July 22, has given birth to three surviving panda cubs at National Zoo with Tian Tian – the 20-year-old male panda at the zoo. Tai Shan, a male, was born July 9, 2005; Bao Bao, a female, was born Aug. 23, 2013; and Bei Bei, a male, was born on Aug. 22, 2015.

Tai Shan and Bao Bao were returned to China by the time they turned 4 as is required. Bei Bei, 2, is still at National Zoo with Mei Xiang and Tian Tian.