Memphis zoo: Ultrasound confirms panda pregnancy

Dr. George Flinn conducts ultrasound on panda
Dr. George Flinn conducts ultrasound on panda
Dr. George Flinn conducts ultrasound on panda
Dr. George Flinn conducts ultrasound on panda

The watch is over after a major announcement from the Memphis Zoo. Ya Ya is pregnant, an ultrasound confirmed at 2:30 today.

It was believed Ya Ya was in the late stages of her pregnancy. It turns out, she's in the early stages of pregnancy.

Chuck Brady, the CEO of the Memphis Zoo, says it'll be another 30 to 45 days before Ya Ya delivers the baby panda.

Brady says the baby is about the size of a peanut right now.

They did not see a heartbeat in today's ultrasound. They hope to in the next few days.

Also, as of now, Ya Ya is not having twins as previously thought.

They only saw one sac in her uterus. Ya Ya is currently on 24-hour watch.

"It's in the early stages. It's risky. It's wonderful news, but we have to keep our fingers crossed and do everything we can to make sure the pregnancy is successful," said Brady.

Ya Ya was artificially inseminated for the first time in January, and it's rare she got pregnant the first time.

In fact, it's just rare for Pandas to reproduce at all. That's why they're an endangered species.

There are only 8 to 10 births a year worldwide.

Below is the news release from the Memphis Zoo:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - An ultrasound on the Memphis Zoo's female giant panda
Ya Ya this afternoon showed that she is pregnant. A giant panda fetus
was detected in the womb. 

"We are excited about the results of Ya Ya's latest ultrasound," said
Memphis Zoo President and CEO Chuck Brady. "Things couldn't be going any
better, but we are also still aware that she is at a critical point in
her pregnancy."

The ultrasound provided positive identification of one embryonic sac
that contains a panda fetus. The 25-minute procedure also revealed that
the cub appears to be growing well.

Dr. George Flynn, a friend of the Zoo and leading expert in the field of
ultrasound technologies and procedures, performed the procedure.

The cub will likely be born by the end of June. 

Ya Ya, the Memphis Zoo's 6-year-old female panda, has been showing
behavior typical of pregnancy in weeks past. Her appetite has decreased,
she has been more restless and irritable, and she has spent more time in

Zoo staff now monitors Ya Ya 24 hours a day. She is in her maternity den
and has access to her dayroom, or on-exhibit area. She will continue to
receive 24-hour support by Zoo staff throughout the term of her

Closer to the birth of the cub, Ya Ya will likely spend a lot more time
alone and settle into the "tree" in her maternity den. The tree, which
is equipped with an infrared camera, is a replica of where a giant panda
would give birth in the wild.

When the cub is born, the mother and cub will be off exhibit in the
maternity den for three to four months. The Memphis Zoo would work
closely with China to plan the naming ceremony when the cub turns 100
days old. 

The only way Ya Ya and her cub will be viewed will be on the panda Web
cam at and on live monitors in the Zoo's CHINA exhibit.

About the Memphis Zoo

The Memphis Zoo, located in Memphis, Tenn., is home to more than 3,500
animals representing over 500 different species. The Zoo was founded in
1906 and resides on 70 acres in the middle of Overton Park. The Memphis
Zoo has completed over $77 million in renovation and expansion since the
early 1990s, making it one of the finest zoological parks in the nation.
The Zoo's animal inhabitants reside in one-of-a-kind exhibitry, such as
Northwest Passage, Commercial Appeal Cat Country, Primate Canyon,
Dragon's Lair, Animals of the Night and CHINA - home to giant pandas Ya
Ya and Le Le.  The Memphis Zoo is an accredited member of the American
Zoo and Aquarium Association. Memphis Zoo, Ya Ya and Le Le are
trademarks of the Memphis Zoo.