The Berlin Zoo has imposed the strictest secrecy on its employees. So far nothing has leaked out. But on Wednesday morning, the zoo wants to tell if there will soon be panda offspring in the zoo – if Banda-bear Meng Meng is pregnant.
After all, the mere fact that the zoo has invited to a press conference for Wednesday at 9.30 clock, considered by hopeful observers as a sign that it might have worked.
The official invitation states: "Regular ultrasound and hormone examinations should now bring light into the dark and, at best, a pregnancy at Meng Meng."
So far, this could not be determined by ultrasound. But this is not unusual. "A pregnancy can only be established relatively shortly before birth," said the spokeswoman.
Unlike humans, there is a greater time span between fertilization and implantation of the embryo. If the so-called dormancy is detected, it could come to birth a few weeks later.
The actual development time of the embryo is 45 to 60 days. Up to six months after fertilization – for which experts at Meng Meng helped in early April – panda females give birth to one or two hairless hamster-sized pups.
According to the zoo, panda pups, weighing around 80 to 200 grams, weigh about one-thousandth of their mother's weight at birth.
At fertilization, the experts had to help, even panda males Jiao Qing had initially shown little interest. Meng Meng squeaked like a pig – it was their mating calls. Panda females can be fertilized only once a year within 24 to 72 hours.
After all, Jiao Qing has heard the pleading of Meng Meng. On two days they have mated a total of seven times. Two Chinese reproductive experts watched the action closely.
However, it was not possible to determine whether the mating was successful. To make sure that it worked, was once again helped – Pandas are finally threatened with extinction.
With an electric ejaculator, Jiao Qing's sperm had been won and subsequently introduced to Meng Meng. For this, the two pandas had to be stunned for a short time.
The reproductive expert Thomas Hildebrandt from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) said in April: "Even if an artificial insemination is a routine intervention for us, the insemination of a panda is also something special for us."
Should Meng Meng give birth, he will only be in Berlin for a limited time. Zoo director Andreas Knieriem had recently stated, "If the pandas get offspring, they would stay with us for up to four years, and even in the natural habitat, young and mothers will go their separate ways – pandas are loners. where the offspring is expected to move to China. "