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She’s having a baby! Toronto Zoo panda is pregnant

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Sep 30th, 2015

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Break out the champagne! A panda at the Toronto Zoo is pregnant.

Two heartbeats can be seen on Er Shun’s ultrasound, the Zoo said on Wednesday.

It is the first time in Canada a giant panda has been artificially inseminated, Zoo officials said earlier this year.

The first fetal heartbeat was seen on Friday. The second heartbeat was seen in an ultrasound on Tuesday.

“While this is a positive sign, the following three to four weeks are very critical,” the Zoo said in a statement, adding they were “cautiously hopeful.”

It was the second time the zoo had tried artificial insemination.A 2014 attempt was unsuccessful.

Pandas only have one chance per year when they can breed – a window lasting one to three days – and the zoo has been keeping an eye on Er Shun to see when her next cycle would begin.

Zoo staff tried again in April and it appears it was successful.

Dr. Gabby Mastromonaco, curator of reproductive programs and research at the Toronto Zoo, said they resorted to the procedure for six-year-old Er Shun because her partner, five-year-old Da Mao, didn’t show any interest when she went into heat.

The two much-celebrated, and furry, Chinese ambassadors arrived in Toronto last spring.

The buildup to their arrival, via a FedEx plane, began in February of last year, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in China for a three-day tour.

After more than a decade of negotiations with zoo officials, the Chinese agreed to loan Canada the pandas for 10 years – splitting the visit equally between Toronto and Calgary, unless the pair manages to breed.

The pandas will be at the Toronto Zoo until 2018, when they’ll move to the Calgary Zoo for another five years.

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