Edinburgh Zoo panda Tian Tian ‘pregnant’ – and could give birth by end of August
Keepers said latest scientific tests give ‘strong indication’ artificial insemination has been a success
Edinburgh Zoo’s giant panda Tian Tian, the only female of her species in the UK, is believed to be pregnant.
Tian Tian’s keepers said that a series of “very new and complex” scientific tests gave them a “strong indication” that a recent programme of artificial insemination has proved effective.
The zoo said that there was still no way of being 100 per cent certain the panda is pregnant until she actually gives birth – but that this could take place by the end of the month.
Tian Tian was artificially inseminated on 13 April this year, after attempts to bring her together with her partner Yang Guang failed. Panda foetuses only develop very late on in the gestation period, and monitoring their pregnancies is not an exact science.
Iain Valentine, director of pandas at the zoo, said: “The latest scientific data suggests Tian Tian the giant panda is now pregnant and that implantation has taken place; therefore, she may give birth at the end of the month.
“This is all very new and complex science and we still have a bit of time to go yet, as like last year, the late loss of a cub remains entirely possible.
“Monitoring a female giant panda's behaviour - for example, if she is sleeping a lot, eating more or spending time in her cubbing den - is not an indicator of if she is pregnant or otherwise, as giant pandas experience pseudo pregnancies and she will show 'pregnant' type behaviour whether she is pregnant or not.
“Two of our Chinese colleagues are due to travel to Scotland in mid-August and we continue to monitor and wait.”
Tian Tian (meaning Sweetie) and Yang Guang (meaning Sunshine) are the first giant pandas to live in the UK for 17 years.
The animals, now both aged 10, arrived on loan from China in December 2011 and will remain at Edinburgh Zoo for a decade. Any cubs would be returned to China at the age of two, mimicking the age of natural dispersal in the wild.
Tian Tian was successfully inseminated last year but lost her cub late on in the pregnancy.
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