Zoo Atlanta officials confirmed Thursday afternoon that giant panda Lun Lun, the attraction’s favorite mom, is pregnant.
Veterinarians were able to do an ultrasound on the 230-pound bear around 4 p.m. and saw a fetus in the right horn of her uterus, said Dwight Lawson, senior vice president of collections, education and conservation for the zoo.
Zoo officials have been on pins and needles since beginning around the clock panda watch Aug. 9. They artificially inseminated Lun Lun in April with semen from zoo mate Yang Yang, the panda father of the pair’s daughter Mei Lan, who was born in September 2006.
An ultrasound, taken Thursday of the abdomen of giant panda Lun Lun at Zoo Atlanta, shows the “centipede-like” backbone of a fetus in the center of the image. Zoo officials say Lun Lun could give birth very soon.
They were unable to determine if there is a second cub fetus — officials are hoping she is having twins — because her position during the ultrasound did not allow a peek of her left side.
“We have confirmed a panda cub, and it appears to be fully formed with a nice heartbeat,” Lawson said.
“We are anxious to have something happen soon.”
Zoo officials have been on pins and needles since beginning an around-the-clock panda watch Aug. 9.
They artificially inseminated Lun Lun in April with semen from zoo mate Yang Yang.
Yang Yang is the father of the pair’s daughter, Mei Lan, who was born in September 2006.
Atlanta is one of four U.S. zoos with giant pandas. The others are in Washington, Memphis and San Diego.
Officials were able to get the ultrasound after Lun Lun, who has been more restless in the past two days, was willingly coaxed to lay on her side for the ultrasound.
After getting a gel on her abdomen, one veterinarian used the ultrasound wand on her stomach while another, sitting at the animal’s head, plied her with bananas, biscuits and other treats, Lawson said.
“She’s trained for voluntary ultrasounds,” he said.
Lawson said now officials just have to wait.
They hope Lun Lun’s water will break soon and labor will begin. Her last labor lasted 36 hours.
“It could be any moment,” he said. “We’ve been feeling that way for the last few days.”
Send best wishes to Lun Lun
Baby news! Panda Lun Lun is pregnant | ajc.com