Berlin Zoo confirms panda Meng Meng is pregnant

Berlin's beloved panda Meng Meng is expecting a cub, the zoo announced on Tuesday.

Berlin Zoo confirms panda Meng Meng is pregnant
Meng Meng the panda in Berlin. Photo: DPA

“We are delighted with the news,” said Berlin Zoo director Andreas Knieriem after an ultrasound scan confirmed the pregnancy.

Berlin Zoo says the size of the foetus and the results of hormonal analysis suggest the birth will take place within a fortnight.

The zoo tweeted the good news, showing an ultrasound picture of the “mini panda”. 

Meng Meng, which means 'Little Dream', and her mate Jiao Qing, 'Little Treasure', have been living in Berlin Zoo since 2017.

Their arrival in the German capital was greeted by both Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

READ ALSO: The diva and the dude: A year of Berlin's beloved pandas

They are the only pandas currently in Germany, housed in an enclosure that cost nine million euros.

“Every birth of an endangered species like pandas is a great gift,” added Knieriem, who pointed out how difficult it is to breed pandas.

Meng Meng in Berlin Zoo in October 2018. Photo: DPA

Meng Meng was artificially inseminated, to increase the chances of conceiving, after the pandas mated.

Under China's 'panda diplomacy', the animals, considered national treasures, are effectively on loan to other countries.

Any panda cubs born abroad must be returned to China within four years, after they have been weaned.

China has sent giant pandas to only a dozen countries, including France, where a baby cub, Yuan Meng, was born last year and turned one this month.

Baby fever

And Meng Meng is not the only animal eyeing up parenthood in the zoo in recent weeks. A gay penguin couple, who tried to hatch a stone, have adopted an egg.

READ ALSO: Gay penguins in Berlin adopt egg after trying to hatch a stone

It's not clear yet if the egg has been fertilized, but Skipper and Ping have been caring for the egg in their bid to become parents.  


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Swan Late: Mourning bird holds up German trains

A swan mourning the death of its companion on a German railway track held up 23 trains for almost an hour and had to be removed by firefighters using special equipment, police said.

Swan Late: Mourning bird holds up German trains
A swan sat on the tracks, mourning its companion. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Bundespolizei/Bundespolizei

The two birds had strayed onto the track area of the high-speed line between Kassel and Göttingen in central Germany “during an excursion”, according to Kassel police.

One of the birds died, likely after getting caught in the overhead power cables, said the statement on the December 23rd incident, which was made public late on Monday.

Its companion then sat beside the body in mourning, resisting attempts by officials to lure it away and temporarily closing the line to traffic.

Firefighters with special equipment were later called in and managed to lift the dead swan and its surviving companion away from the area.

Twenty-three trains were delayed for about 50 minutes while the rescue operation took place, the police statement said.

The surviving swan was unharmed and later released onto the river Fulda, it

According to Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, swans try to find a mate for life.