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High hopes that Berlin zoo's panda is expecting

CORRECTS NAME TO MENG MENG --- In this Friday, April 5, 2019 file photo taken trough a window female panda Meng Meng eats bamboo at its enclosure at the zoo in Berlin, Germany. The Berlin zoo announced that Meng Meng is probably pregnant after an artificial insemination several months ago. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, file)

BERLIN — Experts say they’re pretty sure Berlin zoo’s 6-year-old panda Meng Meng is pregnant.

Meng Meng mated for the first time with 9-year-old partner Jiao Qing in April, and was also artificially inseminated to increase the likelihood of pregnancy. She is now displaying an enlarged uterus, weight gain, hormonal changes, lethargy and other signs.

The Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research has been conducting regular examinations and says the indications are looking good for a late August or early September birth of one or two cubs, which would be Germany’s first-ever panda births.

Institute expert Thomas Hildebrandt said Wednesday that “although phantom pregnancies are relatively common in giant pandas, at the moment we are around 85 per cent sure that Meng Meng is actually expecting.”

The Associated Press