Panda-razzi watch for bumps
Fargo's panda-razzi can put down their cameras - at least for a week or two. The extra pounds one of the Red River Zoo's Chinese red pandas was packing on may not have been a baby bump, but rather part of a phenomenon called pseudo-pregnancy. Wit...
Fargo's panda-razzi can put down their cameras - at least for a week or two.
The extra pounds one of the Red River Zoo's Chinese red pandas was packing on may not have been a baby bump, but rather part of a phenomenon called pseudo-pregnancy.
With the chunky little raccoonlike critters, it can be hard to tell, a zoo expert said Friday.
Still, followers of the local celebri-pandas can keep their panda-naming books handy. A second female has also been gaining weight and showing nesting behaviors, said lead panda keeper Marcy Thompson.
Jiao Mei, who was paired with Rusty, a loaner panda from Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo, should give birth sometime in the first week or two of June if she's pregnant, Thompson said.
Jiao Mei is an experienced mama, having given birth to twin cubs at the zoo in 2002.
The zoo had high hopes for Shan Tou and Yukiko, a pair purchased from a zoo in Japan, because their offspring would help diversify the limited genetic line of Chinese red pandas now in captivity, Thompson said.
But after putting on a half-pound of weight a week for several weeks and puttering around a lot in her nesting box, it appears Shan Tou has been losing weight, making it unlikely that she's pregnant. Thompson said some at the zoo still hold out hope.
"Like giant pandas, they'll have pseudo-pregnancies. It just might be instinct for them to go through that," Thompson said.
The zoo has a fifth panda, a male, which is not yet paired.
Chinese red pandas are an endangered species because of loss of habitat due to deforestation and poaching.
In another baby-related development, the zoo is still casting about for wolf pups. The zoo requested pups from other zoos to rear in the wolf facility that's nearing completion, but none were available, said Executive Director Paula Grimestad.
"We're still hopeful that we'll be able to find pups this season" from other zoos, Grimestad said.
"We really want to socialize them and have them grow up here so they're healthy-minded wolves," Grimestad said. "So they aren't stressed like a lot of wolves in captivity."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583