Pandas listen to Simon Bates’ smooth classics as mating season approaches


MALE panda Yang Guang is getting in the mood for love – by listening to former Radio 1 stars Simon Bates and David “Kid” Jensen.

Zoo bosses hoping for the patter of tiny paws this year have switched the bear’s radio from Classic FM to the more relaxing, easy-listening sounds of Smooth Radio.

And the station, which employs several radio stars of the 70s and 80s, has responded by playing a daily song for Yang Guang, including Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On.

The smooth hits could be getting pandas in the mating mood
The smooth hits could be getting pandas in the mating mood


Interest is growing around the world as the panda mating season approaches and intimate details of the pair’s warm-up routine have already emerged, including physical exercises, special lighting and extra rations of bamboo.

But it seems that music – as much as bamboo – could be the food of love for Yang Guang.

Only yesterday Simon Bates, who has fronted Smooth Radio’s breakfast show for two years, played ‘I Wanna Lay With You’ by The Sherbs.

Bates brought millions of listeners to a halt in the 1980’s with his 11am ‘Our Tune’ feature on Radio 1.

Over the background of Nino Rota’s theme to Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film Romeo and Juliet, Bates would read a listener’s story, often on a tragic theme such as illness or death, before playing a record chosen by the correspondent.

David “Kid” Jenson also had a hit radio Radio 1 show in the 1970s, as well as presenting Top of the Pops in the 70s and 80s.

And Mulleted Pat Sharp is perhaps more famous with children of the 90s, when the orange-skinned presenter fronted cheesy game shows, including ‘Funhouse’ and ‘What’s up Doc’ to a legion of young fans.

They are joined on Smooth Radio by ‘Puppy Love’ singer Donnie Osmond.

The 70s heartthrob enjoyed world-wide fame as a member of the Osmonds before becoming a TV and Radio personality himself.

A spokeswoman from Edinburgh Zoo confirmed: “We play easy listening radio to Yang Guang in his off show area.

“He has always been more sensitive than Tian Tian to background noise, so it’s settling and soothing for him to have it playing softly in the background.

“You can often see him sit back, relax and eat his bamboo whilst the radio is on.”

A spokeswoman at Smooth Radio described the situation as “very amusing”.

She said their playlist currently contained a daily dedication to the pandas, including ‘Let’s Get It On.’

If Yang Guang and Tian Tian, who are currently on loan from China, mate successfully this year their cubs will be the first born in the UK.

Keepers have also been using a whistle, along with rewards of fresh carrots and apples, to train both pandas to stand on their hind legs, to help build up their strength for the task that lies ahead.

Female pandas ovulate just once per year and are then only fertile for two days afterwards.

Prior to coming to Scotland, the Zoo’s female panda has tended to come into season in the last week of March or early to mid-April.

Tian Tian, who is much calmer than her partner, has also been trained to stand on her hind legs so that keepers can perform ultrasound scans to check her ovaries and womb and hopefully later to monitor her pregnancy.

Tian Tian has begun producing high-pitched chirps that indicate she is coming into season.

The Zoo is hoping to increase its chances of successful mating by putting the pandas under general anaesthetic to use artificial insemination as well as natural methods.