UK's only giant panda Tian Tian will not give birth this year, Edinburgh Zoo announces

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The only female giant panda in the UK will not give birth to cubs this year, Edinburgh Zoo has announced.

It comes after the zoo revealed last month that Tian Tian was believed to be pregnant but that a due date was hard to predict.

This is the animal’s sixth failed attempt to produce cubs since arriving in Edinburgh.

Tests have since found that the panda’s hormone levels and behaviour have returned to normal “as the breeding cycle ends for this year”.

Iain Valentine, the director of giant pandas at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), said: “It is with sadness that we can confirm Tian Tian, Edinburgh Zoo’s resident female giant panda, will not give birth to cubs this year.

He added:”I would like to thank the expert team of keepers, veterinary staff and others who have shown dedication and tenacity throughout the last nine months to ensure Tian Tian received the very best round-the-clock care.”

Tian Tian was artificially inseminated earlier this year and had been closely monitored by experts.

News of the insemination had been kept under wraps by the zoo following five previous attempts failed to produce a cub since Tian Tian arrived in Edinburgh with male Yang Guang in 2011.

The pair, who are on loan from China for a decade, are the only giant pandas living in the UK.

Unreceptive: The zoo’s male panda, Yang Guang, was reluctant to mate with Tian Tian (Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

Barbara Smith, chief executive of RZSS, said: “There was great excitement when early tests indicated that Tian Tian was pregnant. Like everyone, we are sad that the pregnancy did not result in cubs this time around.

“Giant panda breeding is an incredibly complex, unpredictable process. Over the next few weeks, we will be working closely with our Chinese partners to review not only this year’s breeding season but all the scientific data from the past five years, to help us better understand this complex process.”

Tian Tian has previously given birth to twins in China but panda reproduction is a notoriously tricky process, with females only ovulating once a year.


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