Hong Kong Ocean Park confirms loss of foetus in giant panda Ying Ying

Updated: 2015-10-07 18:11


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HONG KONG - Hong Kong Ocean Park announced on Wednesday that giant panda Ying Ying's foetus is no longer viable based on ultrasound scans performed this week.

Ocean Park said at a press conference that since the confirmation of Ying Ying's pregnancy through ultrasound scans in late September, Ocean Park and specialists from Chinese mainland have been closely monitoring her condition on a 24-hour basis for signs of labour. However, recent ultrasound scans showed that the foetus ceased to develop and that the heartbeat of the foetus is no longer present, confirming that the foetus is no longer viable.

Lee Foo Khong, veterinarian at Ocean Park, said the ultrasound examinations performed on Tuesday and Wednesday showed clearly the foetus had stopped developing and the foetal structures were no longer distinct.

Wang Chengdong, director of Veterinary Service of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, said Ocean Park's veterinary and animal caretaker team has consistently provided the best possible care for Ying Ying.

"Cases of foetal reabsorption, pseudo-pregnancies, miscarriages, stillbirths and death after birth, are not uncommon for giant pandas, especially for first-time mothers due to their inexperience."

Lee said although it is not possible to ascertain the cause of "in-utero" deaths in giant pandas, Ocean Park, along with the Wolong specialists, will closely review the data gathered during Ying Ying's pregnancy in an effort to learn more about this phenomenon. The teams will continue to focus their attention on caring for Ying Ying to ensure that she remains healthy.

According to Ocean Park, at present, Ying Ying's behaviors have remained largely the same as last week, with reduced food intake from 10 kg to 1 kg, increased resting time from 14 hours to 22 hours, and a heightened sensitivity to sounds and her surroundings.

"The whole park is extremely saddened by the news, especially our team of animal caretakers and veterinarians who have wholeheartedly watched over Ying Ying and accompanied her during her journey over the past few months. While we mourn her loss of foetus, we remain hopeful for more opportunities and fruitful outcomes in the years to come," said Suzanne Gendron, executive director of Ocean Park' Zoological Operations and Education.

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland, Chinese central government presented giant pandas Ying Ying and Le Le to Hong Kong as a gift. The two giant pandas met with the public on July 1, 1997 at Ocean Park.