Even the love tunnel couldn’t get Tian Tian in the mood – and so the scientists intervened to artificially inseminate UK's only female giant panda at Edinburgh zoo

Panda experts say Tian Tian was showing signs that were not 'conducive to mating'

They seemed primed for panda passion: he was eager to participate in a very rare romantic assignation with a member of the opposite sex, while she was grumpy and off her food. But, as the world waited, nothing happened.

Today all hope finally evaporated that Tian Tian and Yang Guang, the resident Chinese giant pandas at Edinburgh Zoo, would mate naturally.

Despite displaying some encouraging signs the couple, who were unromantically thrust together after prolonged negotiations between the Chinese and UK governments, failed to reproduce and their handlers were forced to give nature a helping hand. After seven days of frustrated updates about their reproductive urges, the zoo confirmed it had performed an artificial insemination on Tian Tian in the early hours of this morning.

She had spent most of the week snubbing Yang Guang’s amorous advances as he ventured down an “indoor love tunnel” to meet her in her quarters. They were together three times a day for 15 to 30 minute intervals – thought to mimic how pandas reproduce in the wild by “mating then separating”.

Iain Valentine, the appropriately-named director of giant pandas at the zoo, admitted at the time Tian Tian was “not quite ready” to breed – but Yang Guang was “more than ready and is a completely different animal”.  By the weekend, Tian Tian was displaying the “correct behaviours” for breeding as she had become “very grumpy, went off her food and became a little temperamental”. But despite all of the positive behaviour, the zoo said Tian Tian had displayed signs she would “not be conductive to mating”.

Mr Valentine said the insemination was carried out by two teams working with both pandas. “The timing of the procedure is critical. As soon as Tian Tian hits peak her hormones will start to fall,” he said. There is just a 36-hour annual breeding window for female giant pandas. Any pregnancy will be confirmed in July with cubs born in August or September.

The pair, who have increased visitor numbers at the zoo by 50 per cent, will now be “off show” until tomorrow. The giant panda is the rarest bear on Earth with just 1,600 left in the wild. The zoo pays an annual fee of £600,000 to the Chinese authorities to keep them for 10 years.

Twitter users reacted to the news the pandas were “not up to a Highland fling” by branding the species “evolutionary failures” and claimed keeping them was a waste of money. “All that build up, and then one of the pandas gets a headache… Don’t worry, big guy, we’ve all been there,” wrote one user.

The unhappy couple

Name: Yang Guang

Sex: Yes please.

Age: Nine:

Habits: The zoo says the “gentle giant” likes listening to Smooth FM. He is more sensitive to noise than other giant pandas and has upped his consumption of bamboo to increase his  body size to reach “peak physical shape” for the mating season. Courtship includes performing headstands. Not interested in football.

Name: Tian Tian

Sex: No Thanks

Age: Nine

Habits: Already has two children from a previous relationship. Is said to be “quite reserved” and eats  her meals – she particularly enjoys cakes and carrots –  in a slow and ladylike  manner. She is described  as “very smart” with a great character. She likes playing football.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

News
i100
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and no-one was arrested

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
Voices
The number of children in relative income poverty is currently 2.3 million in the UK
voices

Environment
A Brazilian wandering spider
natureIt's worth knowing for next time one appears in your bananas
Life and Style
Time and Oak have developed a product that allows drinkers to customise the flavour and improve the quality of cheaper whiskey
food + drink

Sport
football

Peter Biaksangzuala died from his injuries in hospital on Sunday

Life and Style
The final 12 acts will be facing Simon Cowell, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Mel B and Louis Walsh tonight
fashion

The X Factor's judges colourful outfit was mocked by Simon Cowell

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past