The UK’s only female giant panda, Tian Tian, has been artificially inseminated as she and male panda Yang Guang do not seem interested in mating.
Edinburgh Zoo had hoped that the two pandas would mate naturally this year when Tian Tian was at her most fertile but it was not to be.
On Sunday, after Tian Tian’s hormone levels began to plummet, specialists at the zoo made the decision to resort to artificial insemination.
Edinburgh Zoo Director Iain Valentine said: “From the start, when the pandas started to show breeding behaviour early this spring, both were showing very positive signs.
“We were hopeful natural mating would occur this year, but in the end Tian Tian’s hormones started to fall quickly, which meant her breeding window could be much shorter.
“Although our Chinese expert, Dr Wang Chengdong from the China Conservation and Research Centre for Giant Pandas, was confident the pair would mate naturally, after the first unsuccessful introduction attempt, time restrictions meant we needed to move quickly to artificial insemination.”
Last year, after failed attempts at natural mating, Tian Tian was also artificially inseminated but she sadly miscarried.
It will not be known for certain whether or not the insemination was successful until Tian Tian gives birth – or doesn’t – in August or September.