Amidst the fever of the Edinburgh Festival, Ian Valentine, director of giant pandas at Edinburgh Zoo has announced news today that will launch a frenzy of pregnant panda speculation into overdrive. Mr Valentine says that all available data suggests that the zoo’s 10-year-old giant Panda, Tian Tian, is pregnant once again and is expected to give birth by the end of the month.
Such is the precarious nature of Panda pregnancies that experts will only be able to confirm the pregnancy once Tian Tian goes into labour. Mr Valentine said, “It is very likely that we will not know 100 per cent if Tian Tian is pregnant until she gives birth, however, very new scientific tests will give us a strong indication.”
Tian Tian was pregnant last year but did not go full term. There is a fear that the same unfortunate outcome could happen again.Tian Tian underwent artificial insemination treatment in April after she and her panda partner, Yang Guang, failed to conceive naturally. Two Panda experts from China have been put on alert and are expected to arrive in Edinburgh in the next few days to assist Tian Tian delivering her cub.
The arrival of the cub is expected to boost attendances at the zoo. Economic forecasts suggested at the time of the Panda’s arrival that they could bring in an estimated extra visitor expenditure of 28 million pounds over the 10 years of their stay. The arrival of a Panda cub is expected to increase that figure dramatically.