No panda cubs at Edinburgh Zoo after eighth failed bid

Zoo in talks with Chinese officials to keep the Giant Pandas beyond an original ten-year deal.

No panda cubs at Edinburgh Zoo after eighth failed bid RZSS
Female Giant Panda to remain at Edinburgh Zoo despite unable to produce cub.

Edinburgh Zoo’s female Giant Panda has failed to produce a cub despite being artificially inseminated for the eighth time.

Tian Tian and her former mate Yang Guang arrived in Scotland in 2011 as part of a conservation breeding programme.

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

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

The female has been naturally mated once and artificially inseminated eight times.

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.

It was thought Edinburgh Zoo was set to return the pandas – which cost about £1m to lease annually – to China amid financial pressures caused by the pandemic.

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.

“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.”