Edinburgh zoo panda Tian Tian 'ready to mate next week'

 

A A A

The UK's only female giant panda will be ready to mate next week, her keepers predict.

Experts at Edinburgh Zoo have been monitoring Tian Tian for months and have recorded the first increase in her oestrogen levels and a dip in her progesterone.

They now believe she will be able to mate next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Female pandas ovulate once a year, giving a narrow window of 36 hours in which they can get pregnant.

Iain Valentine, director of research and conservation, said: "We've seen behavioural changes in Tian Tian over the last week or so: calling out to Yang Guang, going up to the grate between the two enclosures and spending time in her pond to cool her internal system down.

"And now her hormone levels are changing too.

"Based on the data we have, we believe our female panda will probably be ready to mate early next week, likely on the Tuesday or Wednesday."

The zoo said it is likely that both pandas will be taken off display for some or all of Tuesday and Wednesday. Visitors who have booked a viewing slot will be refunded or be able to rebook for a later date.

Mr Valentine said staff at the zoo are looking forward to next week "with a mixture of excitement and anticipation".

He added: "We have hopes that they will breed but it's totally up to them. On day one both pandas will be put into the same enclosure, with Yang Guang going to Tian Tian.

"Likely only for around 15 minutes, our expert keepers will be on hand to separate the two bears if the sparks fly just a little too much, as at the end of the day, both are powerful and dangerous animals and it's not uncommon for pandas to attack each other after or instead of mating.

"We will introduce them up to three times on the first day. If all goes well, we will continue to encourage natural mating on day two as well. If natural mating doesn't occur on day one, we will consider artificial insemination.

"We are hopeful of a positive outcome. However, we are realistic that this is only the very first year that Tian Tian and Yang Guang have been in Scotland and that we also have 10 more to go!"

Giant pandas Tian Tian (meaning Sweetie in English) and Yang Guang (Sunshine) arrived in Scotland from Ya'an reserve in Chengdu, China on December 4 last year. They went on show to visitors for the first time on December 16.

Earlier this month the zoo said it may stream any birth live on the internet. The panda enclosure has a camera already installed, allowing people to watch the animals every day.

Mr Valentine said: "If Tian Tian does get pregnant, confirmation of this may also not be straightforward. Female pandas often have pseudo-pregnancies where their behaviour and hormones indicate they are pregnant for fairly long periods of time when in fact they're not.

"Also, experts do not know how long panda gestation periods actually are, as female pandas practice delayed implantation. Panda pregnancies can be anything from 85 to 100 days.

"If Tian Tian and Yang Guang mate next week, it might not be until mid-July before positive or negative results can be confirmed.

"We understand that the whole country is in a state of heightened anticipation but whatever the outcome of next week, we as animal conservationists and scientists have learnt a huge amount in such a short time about this captivating species.

"We are just delighted to be playing our part in the essential long-term worldwide panda breeding programme."

Edinburgh Zoo is home for the pandas for the next 10 years.

Tian Tian and Yang Guang are the first giant pandas to live in the UK for 17 years.

PA

Suggested Topics
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little