EDINBURGH zoo have given their biggest hint yet that there could be a
panda cub on its way.
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) have confirmed that a
second rise in Tian Tian’s hormone levels could indicate that she is
Edinburgh’s female panda was artificially inseminated with the sperm
of two pandas in April and the tests show that she could be ready to
give birth within the month.
The hormone test which was carried out in July detected a rise in
If pregnant, it means Tian Tian could give birth to her cub in around
40 to 55 days.
However officials at the zoo have stressed the rise in hormone levels
could also indicate a “pseudo pregnancy.”
Tian Tian was too “fiesty” to undergo an ultrasound procedure, the
zoo’s CEO said.
It would have involved the bear having to sit still with its fur
shaved and have gel applied.
The zoo’s “panda team” have said that Tian Tian is now showing
“nesting behaviour” and is off her food and “restless,” all strong
indicators that she is pregnant.
Today the zoo also confirmed if Tian Tian is confirmed pregnant a
Chinese expert will fly over to Edinburgh prior to the cubs birth, and
stay with the bear for its first few months of life.
Keepers at the zoo have so far been unable to carry out an ultrasound
as the “feisty female” decided “not to participate.”
Earlier this month the zoo had revealed that Tian Tian was in training
for her ultrasound as this is the only way they could conclusively
find out if she was expecting.
However, the zoo have now said that not being able to carry out the
test is “not really an issue” as not all ultrasounds detect if a
female giant panda is pregnant.
Iain Valentine Director of Giant Pandas for the RZSS said they would
not “risk the hand of our vet” when giving the bear the ultrasound.
Mr Valentine said: “We cannot tell definitively at this stage if Tian
Tian is pregnant or not, although we’re seeing results that give us
cause for encouragement.
“Tian Tian still may be experiencing a pseudo pregnancy, so it is
important to remember that and there is still a need to just watch and
wait whilst continuing to monitor her hormone levels.
“Confirming a female panda’s pregnancy is never straight forward and
we would encourage people to try not to get too excited just yet – I
know it’s easier said than done though!
“Further hormone results will be available roughly by mid-August that
will add to the picture – if Tian Tian is not pregnant specific
hormone levels should drop back down to zero.“
Mr Valentine also said that Tian Tian could have twins by different
fathers, one of whom would be Yang Guang.
He continued: “We used two different males for the artificial insemination.
“It’s hugely exciting. There’s never been a baby panda born in the UK.”
One of the panda keepers Michael Livingstone said that a panda cub
would great a massive “buzz.”
He said: “I think it’ll just explode. I think there’s going to be a
very big buzz about it.
“It’s such an exciting thing so I think it’ll go off the scale.”
Despite the attempts of keepers at Edinburgh Zoo Tian Tian was not
placed with male Yang Guang during the breeding season as she was not
receptive to him.
However, when her hormone levels spiked in April keepers artificially
inseminated her with sperm from both Yang Guang and another male Bao
Experts at Edinburgh Zoo have said that they are already set up for
the cub’s arrival and have two incubators ready in the panda nursery
just in case there are twins.
The zoo is preparing to hand rear one of the cubs – if they are twins
– as mother pandas often abandon one cub in favour of another as they
are only able to raise one at a time.
The zoo have also confirmed that they will be keeping with Chinese
tradition and a baby panda would be named 100 days after it is born.
Paternity is likely to be confirmed by the RZSS WildGenes laboratory
that is onsite at Edinburgh Zoo.
The zoo further confirmed that any cub born at Edinburgh Zoo is the
property of China.
Radio and television presenter Nicky Campbell was one of the first to
tweet about the exciting panda news.
The Scottish presenter joked in reference to a name for the cub and
how much the zoo are likely to profit from a new arrival saying: “Good
morning. Joy for mummy Panda? Kerching [great name] for the zoo.”