Panda experts think that the panda Ai Hin faked a pregnancy after realising that she would be entitled to extra treats.

Pandas are especially fond of fruit buns

Pandas are especially fond of fruit buns

Keepers at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre were over the moon when Ai Hin showed obvious signs that she was expecting. Following standard protocols, Ai Hin was moved to a single room, complete with air conditioning and given plenty of treats, especially the panda-favourite of fruit buns, to tempt her as pregnant pandas become more sedate and have lessened appetites.

However, recent tests show that Ai Hin was never pregnant and may have faked the whole thing. Experts are confident that pandas are capable of “cunning” behaviour and learn from other pandas, as well as observing their surroundings closely

Panda expert, Wu Kongju, told a local news agency: “They also receive more buns, fruits and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life.”

Pandas are an endangered species due to habitat loss and a notoriously low birth rate; just under a quarter of females living in captivity give birth and research is under way to improve that rate, including hormone treatment and breeding programmes.