Giant Panda at Tokyo Zoo Showing Signs of Possible Pregnancy

Created: 2013-05-29 08:06 EST

Category: World > Asia Pacific

Panda lovers in Japan were excited on Tuesday (May 28) as officials at a Tokyo Zoo said a giant panda has shown signs of pregnancy nearly a year after her first cub's death.

Officials at Ueno Zoo said 7-year-old Shin Shin showed an increase in progesterone levels, an indicator of a possible pregnancy, in a blood test conducted on May 23.

Officials said they will only know if the female panda has actually been pregnant a few hours before her delivery - if it ever happens - as the symptoms of false pregnancy are almost identical to the real one.

Shin Shin and her mate Ri Ri, which arrived from China in 2011, excited Japan last year with a surprising birth to a much-awaited cub on July 5. However, the cub died six days later due to pneumonia.

Shin Shin has since showed reduced appetite for bamboo leaves and slept longer, officials said.

Zoo officials have said if it is a real pregnancy, a new born cub could arrive as early as mid-June.