Jan 15 predicted as date when Thailand's baby panda will be born

Thai veterinarians performing an ultrasound on 12-year-old Panda Lin Hui (top L) in northern Thailand's Chiang Mai Zoo.

THAILAND- Lin Hui, Chiang Mai Zoo's much-adored giant panda, is expected to give birth on January 15, a senior government veterinarian in charge of her custody and maternity-care said yesterday.

Lin Hui's lengthy sleeps and fluctuating hormone levels were typical behaviour of a giant panda about to give birth, assured Dr Boripat Siriaroonrat, assistant director of the Zoological Park Organisation under The Royal Patronage of HM The King.

Four "nests" have been prepared in her compound for her to select the one she likes best. The nests mimic the conditions that would be found in Lin Hui's natural habitat, using materials that are not harmful to her cub, he said.

An ultra-sound will be carried out on Lin Hui two days before the expected delivery date, which falls on an auspicious Buddhist day, according to indigenous Lanna custom.

Boripat said that because Lin Hui was lactating, the delivery could come at anytime before January 15. Vigorous movement, including climbing the apparatus in her compound would not affect Lin Hui's pregnancy, but would in fact reduce her stress and anxiety, he added.