The first-ever live broadcast of giant panda cubs being born has suffered a major setback—the star of the show, Ai Hin, isn't actually pregnant. Zookeepers now believe she was "faking it" to get a cushier room and more food.
The 6-year-old panda, housed at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, evidently mimicked signs of pregnancy—changes in appetite, energy level, and hormones—after noticing the perks pregnant pandas receive at the base.
In addition to getting their own air-conditioned rooms, the expectant mothers "receive more buns, fruits and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life," an expert at the base told Chinese state media.
After two months showing hints of pregnancy and being fed accordingly, Ai Hin resumed her normal behavior. The live broadcast, which would have taken place late this year or early next year, is obviously on hold until the base has an actual pregnant panda.
Determining whether a panda is with child is actually a difficult process, and "fake" pregnancies like Ai Hin's are common, CNN reports. Scotland's Edinburgh Zoo says its panda, Tian Tian, could be the next to deliver, but "it is very likely that we will not know 100% if Tian Tian is pregnant until she gives birth."
In lieu of the live broadcast, we'll just have to make due with this footage of the world's first surviving panda cub triplets, born last month: