Beijing:  A celebrated giant panda was removed from world’s first live birth broadcast after it was discovered she was not actually pregnant.

Six-year-old Ai Hin was to feature in the broadcast of the birth of panda cubs, but the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Center yesterday said that the panda had a ‘phantom pregnancy’, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Phantom pregnancy is common among the endangered bears.

Ai Hin showed signs of pregnancy, including reduced appetite, less mobility and a surge in progestational hormone in July, but her behaviours and physiological indexes returned to normal after a two month observation.

She was born to panda Mei Mei in December, 2006 in Japan along with her twin brother, after which they were returned to China in 2012.

Experts say non-pregnant pandas can exhibit prenatal behaviours as a result of progestational hormone changes.

“After showing prenatal signs, the mothers-to-be are moved into single rooms with air conditioning and around the clock care”, said Wu Kongju, an expert at the Chengdu Base.

There are only about 1,600 pandas living in the wild, mostly in the mountains of Sichuan, while about 300 are held in captivity in zoos worldwide.

Most pandas in captivity are not good breeders. Only 24 percent of females in captivity give birth, posing a serious threat to the survival of the species.

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