Mating tests begin on Edinburgh's giant pandas

Feb 20, 2012
Male giant Panda Yang Guang relaxes in his enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo in 2011. Edinburgh Zoo started daily tests to pinpoint the best time for its pair of giant pandas, given to Scotland by China, to try to produce a cub.

Edinburgh Zoo on Monday started daily tests to pinpoint the best time for its pair of giant pandas, given to Scotland by China, to try to produce a cub.

Zoo-keepers are collecting urine and vaginal samples from female panda Tian Tian, whose name means Sweetie, to check her oestrogen levels.

Female pandas are only interested in mating for three days a year and Tian Tian is expected to be in heat at some point between the start of March and early May.

The tests will help work out the best time to start encouraging her to breed with Yang Guang (Sunshine), who arrived in the Scottish capital alongside her to great fanfare in December.

Giant panda Tian Tian is seen in a travel crate at the airport in Edinburgh in 2011 after its transfer from Chengdu in China. Edinburgh Zoo started daily tests to pinpoint the best time for its pair of giant pandas, given to Scotland by China, to try to produce a cub.

"It is vital for us to have as full a picture as possible of when Tian Tian is receptive to mating, as the window will only be three days," said Iain Valentine, director of research and conservation at Edinburgh Zoo.

"Although not with each other, both have bred before and we are fairly optimistic we can achieve a successful panda breeding.

"Signs have been positive to date and Tian Tian has had time to get used to the and sounds of Yang Guang."

The zoo hopes the pair, which have received thousands of visitors in the past three months, will make use of a "tunnel of love" built between their separate enclosures.

Pandas' reproductive systems make breeding notoriously difficult and there are fewer than 1,600 of the left in the world, according to the .

Females can only become pregnant during a 12- to 24-hour period during the entire year, and the males' proportionally short penises mean a precise position must be achieved for mating to be successful.

have tried a range of methods, from to pornography and viagra, in a bid to boost numbers.

Tian Tian and Yang Guang are in Edinburgh on a 10-year loan from China, following five years of high-level political and diplomatic negotiations.

Explore further: Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tartan fit for a panda in Scotland

Jan 24, 2012

Two pandas gifted to Edinburgh zoo by China received the ultimate Scottish honour on Tuesday when a special tartan designed for them was unveiled.

Panda pair jet-lagged after flight to Britain

Dec 05, 2011

A pair of giant pandas are a bit jet-lagged after a long-haul flight from China but are already "frolicking around" in their new surroundings, a spokesman for Edinburgh Zoo said Monday.

Pandas mate with help at the National Zoo

Mar 24, 2008

U.S. veterinarians have artificially inseminated Mei Xiang, a female giant panda at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, after natural mating was unsuccessful.

British zoo welcomes giant pandas from China

Dec 02, 2011

Two giant pandas are set to arrive at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland on Sunday on a eagerly anticipated ten-year loan from China, agreed after years of high-level political and diplomatic negotiations.

US zoo receives $4.5 mn panda donation

Dec 19, 2011

The National Zoo in Washington announced Monday it had received a $4.5 million donation from a rich US benefactor which will fund a five-year study into preservation of the giant panda.

US pandas hold yearly romantic romp

Feb 02, 2011

The doors to the outside world were closed, the lights dimmed. Video cameras angled down from multiple locations, and a couple dozen onlookers watched intently.

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.