updated 7/18/2005 3:35:50 PM ET 2005-07-18T19:35:50

A baby panda may be on the way at Zoo Atlanta.

The zoo’s 7-year-old giant panda, Lun Lun, is showing symptoms of a pregnancy, and she’s been removed from public view while zoo officials watch her round-the-clock for a possible birth.

A panda cub was born at the National Zoo in Washington earlier this month, and zoo officials have said the baby appears to be thriving.

There is no way to test for a panda pregnancy, and pandas sometimes have symptoms even when they don’t conceive. Lun Lun recently has been less active, eating less and showing hormonal changes, Zoo Atlanta officials said.

“She could give birth at any time — if she’s pregnant,” Zoo Atlanta spokeswoman Jacqueline Petty said Monday.

Zoo officials announced in March that Lun Lun had been artificially inseminated, and that if she was pregnant she would give birth by August. Lun Lun and the zoo’s male giant panda, Yang Yang, have not mated.

The National Zoo’s female panda, Mei Xiang, gave birth July 9 to the first cub born there in 16 years. Zoo officials say the baby is putting on weight and Mei Xiang is nurturing the cub well. Its gender is not yet known.

Only two giant panda cubs born in the U.S., both at the San Diego Zoo, have lived to adulthood.

Giant pandas are rare, and only about 1,600 live in the wild in China. About 140 animals live at breeding facilities and zoos, mostly in their native land. Pandas that are loaned to zoos outside China must be returned there when they mature.

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