ZOO bosses turned off the webcams trained on Scotland’s pandas this morning as matters heated up in the bears’ enclosure despite the chilly weather.
Male bear Yang Guang was introduced to female Tian Tian at 9.30am today (tue), and the breeding process is set to begin in earnest.
As well as the webcams being turned off, Edinburgh Zoo has told visitors with panda tickets their viewing slots might be changed.
The “panda cam” allowed fans to keep an eye on the bears, who moved into their homes in December last year.
Would-be online panda voyeurs were greeted with a message saying ‘the panda cam will be unavailable.’
The pandas will not have time for a lengthy romance, as Tian Tian will only stay fertile for around 36 hours.
Careful monitoring of her hormone levels and behaviour have identified today (tue) as the annual window of opportunity.
Keepers are ‘delighted’ at the progress, and say today appears to be the day for mating.
Until now the bears have been kept in separate enclosures.
Temperatures in Edinburgh are hovering just above freezing, with cold rain and snow forecast.
If Tian Tian’s efforts do not succeed in the morning, he will have another chance to woo Tian Tian later in the day.
A panda cub produced by the bear would be only the second born in captivity.
A statement posted on Edinburgh zoo’s website read: “We are delighted to say that today would appear to be the day for panda mating.
“They are being brought together this morning at around 0930, and then later on in the day – exact timing to be confirmed.
“If you have booked a panda viewing ticket for today, please turn up as planned and we will try our very best to fit you in to a viewing slot although your timings may be changed.
“Our Visitor Services staff will inform you of arrangements on arrival.
“Please note, there are no walk-up tickets available today. We will post updates as we have them.
“During this time the panda cam will be unavailable.”