After exhibiting all the hallmarks of a normal panda pregnancy, it was announced on Thursday that Adelaide's resident giant panda Fu Ni has experienced a 'pseudo labour'.
The news comes after Fu Ni was artificially inseminated last year by experts, who have guaranteed that Wang Wang's semen is "of a high quality" (in case there was any doubt).
Hormonal changes indicating that the giant panda was preparing to give birth were observed last week, coinciding with changes in the panda's behaviour over the weekend, including shifting positions, contractions, and heavy breathing.
In a sad turn of events however, it has been confirmed that the couple's third attempt at becoming parents has resulted in another phantom pregnancy, which can happen regardless of whether the pair mate or not.
"During a pseudo pregnancy, hormonal changes and behaviours are identical to those of a true pregnancy, making it very difficult to determine if a Giant Panda is actually pregnant or not," Simone Davey, a senior keeper at Zoos SA, said.
"While Fu Ni has allowed us to ultrasound her for short periods, and the ultrasounds showed some swelling of the uterus and placenta thickening, we weren't able to confirm a foetus."
In a move that keepers have said is consistent with a pseudo pregnancy, Fu Ni has adopted a toy that she spends her time cradling and holding close to her chest.
This isn't the first time she's experienced a phanotom birth, with Davey previously telling The Huffington Post Australia that Fu Ni usually nuzzles and looks after her toy for a while.
"Fu Ni has such strong maternal instincts so we hope this year she'll have a real cub," she said.
Keepers will be monitoring Fu Ni closely as she recovers and are determined to help her and Wang Wang on their journey to parenthood.Suggest a correction