If you google "fake pregnancy," there is a wikiHow on how to pretend to be in the deep throws of joyful impending motherhood in 22 steps (with photos!). Why would you ever want to do that, you ask? Because everyone knows that people in this cruel, cruel world are really nice to pregnant ladies! Just ask the Chinese panda who faked a pregnancy to get a better quality of life.
In July, the six-year-old giant panda Ai Hin began exhibiting signs that she might be pregnant. She was eating less, moving less, and there was an increase of a progestational hormone. People at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding were superhyped about it, too. Ai Hin was set to star in the world's first broadcasted live-birth of panda cubs. She was having her moment — until they found out she had what experts referred to as a "phantom pregnancy."
I've got to address the fact that "phantom pregnancy" is a horrifying term. It makes me think that the sweet-faced panda was going to give birth to some shadowy figure like that one chick did in Game of Thrones. Terrifying.
Maybe these pandas are faking it to get a better parking spot. Or not have people ask so many questions when you order a second entrée.
Apparently, this isn't completely uncommon among endangered bears. Sometimes a change in hormone levels will cause them to exhibit signs of pregnancy. Then, at least at the Chendu Base, they roll out the red carpet.
"After showing prenatal signs, the 'mothers-to-be' are moved into single rooms with air-conditioning and around-the-clock care. They also receive more buns, fruits, and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life," expert Wu Kongju told Xinhua.
The bears, then, notice that if they continue exhibiting these behaviors, they will continue to get the perks.
Oh, okay. I see you, sneaky panda. Just one easy lie gets you some more buns. That's all fine. You like buns, doesn't everyone? A little extra bamboo wouldn't hurt. Then one lie turns into another, and suddenly you have a show. You're going to be a star. But did you think about how you were going to work around, you know, not actually being pregnant? Did you, Ai Hin? No. It was a pleasure cruise of buns, fruit, and AC, and you'd become too greedy to think too far into the future.
It is not immediately clear if the panda will apologize for getting our hopes up and seeing cute pictures of baby giant pandas.