Edinburgh Zoo panda Tian Tian loses cub

Edinburgh Zoo insists it will press on with controversial breeding programme

Edinburgh Zoo said it would continue with its controversial breeding programme after it announced that a female giant panda had lost her baby cub.

There had been mounting excitement in the summer when Royal Zoological Society of Scotland observed hormonal changes in the female Tian Tian – who was artificially inseminated in April - prompting hopes that a first panda could be born in captivity in Britain this autumn.

Director of the project Iain Valentine said the reason for the loss was not known. "Why does this happen? We don't truly understand, but what we do know is this is a species which lives on the edge of a balance between nutritional intake and reproducing,” he said. "We are determined to learn from this experience and if we can improve then we will do,” he added.

News that Tian Tian had miscarried in the latter stages of pregnancy revived bitter memories of earlier failures of Ching Ching and her mate Chia Chia at London Zoo in the 1970s and 80s.

The giant panda is one of the world’s most endangered species with fewer than 1,600 left in the wild. But although there has been growing success in breeding programmes in China and elsewhere animal welfare groups have remained critical of bringing Tian Tian and her mate Yang Guang to Scotland.

John Brady chief executive of Edinburgh-based charity OneKind, which opposes captive breeding programmes, said the failure called into doubt whether to continue with insemination efforts.

“While we are extremely saddened by the possibility of a miscarriage and concerned for the wellbeing of the panda at this time, we need to think about the life a panda cub would have had at the zoo, being unable to forage, feed and roam free as nature intended,” he said.

Edinburgh Zoo is paying the Chinese government £640,000 a year to host the pair which will be on loan until 2021. They arrived in December 2011 following a nine hour flight from Chengdu amid scenes of diplomatic fanfare and talk of a new era of relations between Scotland and China.

Efforts to persuade them to breed naturally appear to have failed despite the creation of a “tunnel of love” separating their respective enclosures. Tian Tian was artificially inseminated with sperm taken from Yang Guang and frozen semen taken from Bao Bao which died in Berlin Zoo last year.

The female panda ovulates only once a year giving a 36 hour window to achieve conception.

However the pandas have become popular attractions at the zoo last year which drew 800,000 visitors.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Network Support Engineer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Network Support Engineer is r...

Recruitment Genius: Account Director - Tech Startup - Direct Your Own Career Path

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Sales Advisor - OTE £35,000

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telephone Sales Advisor is re...

Recruitment Genius: Appointment Maker - OTE £20,000

£14000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An office based Appointment Mak...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent