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Keepers watching closely as Edinburgh pandas look ready to mate

Zoo keepers in Edinburgh have seen a change in the hormone levels of the female panda Tian Tian, sparking hopes that she may come in to season for only the second time since arriving in Scotland.

Male panda Yang Guang eats bamboo in a bid to bulk up ahead of breeding season.
Male panda Yang Guang eats bamboo in a bid to bulk up ahead of breeding season. Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Iain Valentine, Director of Giant Pandas said: "The greatly anticipated hormone crossover has now been spotted in Tian Tian our female giant panda - her oestrogen is rising and her progesterone level has fallen through the floor.

"Every individual panda is different so it is difficult to predict exactly when the panda breeding season will be.

"Based on last year we would expect her to come into season 11 days from crossover, however her strong behavioural changes do not rule out that it could be even sooner than this.

"We'll be continuing to watch her behaviour closely and continuing to hormone test her urine twice a day."

Earlier in the year Yang Guang had started to show signs that he was ready to mate sparking hopes that Edinburgh Zoo could see some panda cubs in the future.

Read: Excitement builds as Edinburgh pandas look ready to mate

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Giant panda celebrates 9th birthday

Yang Guang with his special birthday cake. Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

One of the UK's two giant pandas celebrated his ninth birthday today in Edinburgh Zoo.

Yang Guang tucked into a special cake in the shape of a panda head, as well some bamboo presents.

Yang Guang is nine today. Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

His birthday comes just ten day's before the UK's other giant panda, female Tian Tian, who will turn nine on August 24.

Yang Guang is one of the UK's two pandas. Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Tian Tian (Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine) are the first giant pandas to live in the UK for 17 years and Edinburgh Zoo will be their home for the next 10 years.

Pandas fail to mate

Pandas
Tian Tian and Yang Guang had a window of just 36 hours to mate Credit: PA

Britain's only pandas have run out of time to mate as their limited breeding season drew to a close.

Tian Tian and Yang Guang had a window of just 36 hours to mate and despite "natural sparks" flying between them, the pair did not do the deed.

Keepers at Edinburgh Zoo hoped for one final chance to put them together today but test results late last night showed a drop in the female bear's hormone levels.

They met five times on Tuesday and several times again yesterday and had shown signs of attraction to each other. However, the zoo said the level of interest had passed and limited breeding behaviour was seen in both pandas this morning.

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Last chance for Edinburgh pandas to mate

Britain's only pandas have just one more chance to breed successfully, as time runs out.

On Wednesday "natural sparks" flew between Yang Guang and Tian Tian, but the pair failed to mate, as the female bear's limited window of fertility draws to a close.

Pandas Tian Tian (left) and Yang Guang in their enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo.
Pandas Tian Tian (left) and Yang Guang in their enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo. Credit: Press Association

Keepers at Edinburgh Zoo opened a "love tunnel" between their enclosures after tests showed Tian Tian had ovulated.

They met five times on Tuesday and "several times" on Wednesday but failed to ignite the "spark".

The pandas will have a final chance to mate on Thursday but keepers are losing hope that Tian Tian will get pregnant this year.

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