Edinburgh Zoo pandas: Keepers announce Tian Tian is 'no longer pregnant'

The news ends hopes for first ever UK panda birth

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The Independent Online

Edinburgh Zoo has said that the UK’s only female giant panda is no longer pregnant.

Keepers had announced in August that a series of “very new and complex” tests had shown Tian Tian to be pregnant, and that she could give birth by the end of the month.

But hopes for a cub began to fade when she passed her due date, and today the zoo said the animal’s hormone levels had returned to normal.

A statement from the zoo said that there was no evidence Tian Tian had had a miscarriage, suggesting instead that the foetus could have suffered “late reabsorption”.

There was no suggestion that Tian Tian experienced a “phantom pregnancy”, a relatively common phenomenon among pandas.

Iain Valentine, director of giant pandas for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said: “Tian Tian's hormone levels have now returned to normal, so we can confirm that she is no longer pregnant.

”Panda reproduction and biology is complex; all data gathered since conception took place pointed to a pregnant panda likely to carry to full term, sadly this did not happen. There is no evidence she has had a miscarriage, so late reabsorption of the foetus could have occurred.

“Although Tian Tian has not successfully given birth, it is important for her individual biology as a female giant panda and for the future of giant panda conservation across the globe that we tried. We will also be reviewing all our data and procedures from this year and last.

”The team continue to monitor Tian Tian and she is in great health. The specialist team here and international colleagues will thoroughly review every aspect of how we care for her.“

Tian Tian was artificially inseminated on 13 April after she and her intended partner Yang Guang failed to mate naturally.

Video: Edinburgh Zoo announces panda pregnancy in August

When the animals, both aged 10, arrived on loan from China in December 2011 they became the first pandas to live in the  UK for 17 years. Had Tian Tian given birth successfully, it would have been the first live cub ever born in Britain.

Tian Tian was also successfully inseminated last year, but lost her cub at late term.

Edinburgh Zoo said that despite the disappointing news, Tian Tian was perfectly healthy and that the outdoor viewing area to her and and Yang Guang's enclosures will be reopened from today.