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Giant panda may be returned to China after eight failed attempts at pregnancies

Tian Tian and her former mate Yang Guang arrived at Edinburgh Zoo in 2011 as part of a conservation breeding programme, in a deal costing a reported £1million a year

The UKs only giant pandas leased for £10million from China could be set to return after never having babies – despite eight failed attempts.

Tian Tian and her former mate Yang Guang arrived at Edinburgh Zoo in 2011 as part of a conservation breeding programme, in a deal costing a reported £1million a year.

The ten year lease from Bifengxia Breeding Centre in China is due to end in December.

In China, Tian Tian, successfully gave birth to twins in 2009, but had an unsuccessful first mating season in Scotland in 2012

She had artificial insemination in 2013 – the first time for a giant panda in the UK – and while she became pregnant, it did not result in a baby.

The same thing happened a number of times over the years – with seven further unsuccessful artificial inseminations.



Eight attempts were made at artificial insemination
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Image:

SWNS)




The pair are due to return to China in December but zoo bosses are trying to extend their stay.

It is thought had Tian Tian delivered a cub she would have remained in Scotland until her offspring were old enough to travel.

Former mate Yang Guang had both testicles removed in November 2018 when tumours were discovered by keepers.

Despite Tian Tian now coming to the end of her reproductive life the zoo wants to extend their stay.

David Field, RZSS chief executive, said: “While we now know Tian Tian’s artificial insemination in April was not successful, it has been fantastic to see how wonderful and relaxed she has been this year which shows an incredible level of care from our charity’s expert teams.

“Giving Tian Tian the chance to experience pregnancy and parenthood is important for her wellbeing and provides a vital opportunity to express natural behaviours.



The pair will return to China in December
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Image:

SWNS)




“Giant panda breeding is an amazingly complex, unpredictable process and every cycle has made it possible to carry out scientific research which has benefitted both Tian Tian and international efforts to protect the species over the past decade.

“We remain in discussions with our colleagues in China about Yang Guang and Tian Tian’s future at Edinburgh Zoo as our original ten year agreement ends in December.

“We still hope to extend their stay and will keep everyone updated.”

An RZSS spokesperson added: “After we shared news about Tian Tian’s annual health check and artificial insemination in April, she showed really positive behaviour right through the breeding season.









“While we now know the insemination was not successful, it has been fantastic to see how wonderful and relaxed Tian Tian has been this year which shows an incredible level of care from our charity’s expert teams.

“Giving Tian Tian the chance to experience pregnancy and parenthood is important for her wellbeing and provides a vital opportunity to express natural behaviours

“Giant panda breeding is an amazingly complex, unpredictable process and every cycle has made it possible to carry out scientific research which has benefitted both Tian Tian and international efforts to protect the species over the past decade.

“We remain in discussions with our colleagues in China about Yang Guang and Tian Tian’s future at Edinburgh Zoo as our original ten year agreement ends in December – we still hope to extend their stay.”



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