Giant panda accused of 'faking pregnancy' so handlers would pamper her
A giant panda from Taiwan has been caught faking pregnancy so she could have extra meals and an air conditioned room.
Yuan Yuan, an 11-year-old panda, faked signs of pregnancy, including loss of appetite and thickening around the uterus so that she would receive better treatment from carers at her home in Taipei Zoo.
Her handlers suggested the panda adapted her behaving after witnessing the special treatment given to other expectant mothers.
Staff at Taipei Zoo said that mothers-to-be are normally relocated to more comfortable quarters during the gestation period.
Additional perks include air conditioning, extra helpings of food and more personal attention from handlers.
The Chinese state newspaper China Daily said the ruse was only discovered when panda experts were called in to perform an ultrasound scan confirming her condition.
Yuan Yuan, who gave birth to her first male cub Yuan Zai in July 2013, was given to Taipei Zoo as a gift from the Chinese Communist Party government in December of 2008, along with her male partner Tuan Tuan.
Together, their names 'tuan yuan' roughly translate at 'reunion'.
This is not the first case of pandas faking their pregnancies.
Last August, Ai Hin at the Chengdu Breeding Research Centre was believed to have tricked breeders into thinking she was pregnant to receive more pampering and extra food rations.
Breeding pandas is notoriously difficult, as mating attempts can only be attempted at one specific time of year when hormone levels are at a peak.