The only pandas in the UK have now been brought together for the first time, as the female has been judged ready to mate.
A so-called love tunnel has been opened by the Edinburgh zoo keepers between male Yang Guang and female Tian Tian’s enclosures after tests showed the female panda had ovulated. But their latest attempt on Thursday brought an end to the breeding season this year after several attempts.
The clock is ticking, and the heat is on. It will be a race against time for the male panda, as he has just 36 hours to make his move on his female companion or he’ll have to wait another year. Despite signs of chemistry and interest in each other, and even some wrestling, the two pandas have not mated so far.
Iain Valentine, director of Research & Conservation, Edinburgh Zoo, said, "This is day two of us trying to get the pandas together for a mating and we attempted this morning. We got the two animals together but we still haven’t had a successful mating."
The latest attempt took place on Thursday, but the two did not mate which means the end of the breeding season this year as female pandas ovulate just once a year. For the two pandas and Edinburgh Zoo, however, the experience has been huge.
Iain Valentine, director of Research & Conservation, Edinburgh Zoo, said, "The window of opportunity is closing at the moment. We’ve learnt a huge amount in a short time. It’s only been three and a half months since the animals arrived, and here we are, right away, attempting to breed them so, although we might not be successful, we can roll on to next year."
Tian Tian and Yang Guang arrived in Scotland from Ya’an reserve in Sichuan, China, in December last year. They have attracted many visitors to the zoo as they are the first pandas to live in Britain for nearly two decades.