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Zoo: It is 'really difficult' to tell if a panda is pregnant

Edinburgh Zoo has admitted it is "really difficult" to tell if a female panda is pregnant as the wait goes on for a possible sighting of cubs.

Edinburgh Zoo said in a statement: "Panda breeding is not a precise science and combined with this each animal has their own individual biology - and Tian Tian is definitely not a text book panda!

Tian Tian in her enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo. Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

“Whilst Tian Tian continues to behave like she’s pregnant and whilst her hormones, behaviour and physical changes suggest the same, we will continue to manage her accordingly; as soon as we know otherwise we will of course announce this.

"To put it into context, there are no experts around the world who can say definitively how long a giant panda pregnancy is."

The zoo can still not confirm whether or not Tian Tian is pregnant.

  1. Debi Edward - Scotland Correspondent

The wait goes on for possible sign of panda cubs

emale giant panda Tian Tian in her enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo. Credit: PA Wire

Edinburgh Zoo's female panda Tian Tian is still looking like she could give birth any day.

Her keepers say she continues to show all the positive hormonal and physical signs of being pregnant and in recent days apart from becoming increasingly sensitive to noise she's become rather grumpy and aggressive.

The panda enclosures will remain closed off to the public for at least the next five days during which time those looking after Tian Tian hope she will have a panda cub.

It may seem rather strange to have such uncertainty surrounding a pregnancy and over such an extended time but panda gestation periods are hard to determine and in the case of Tian Tian experts say she is an especially complicated case.

Her behaviour and blood levels are being monitored 24-hours a day so if she shows any signs of going into labour or having lost her babies keepers will be able to tell straight away.

There's apparently a bet among staff at the zoo that she'll keep us guessing till this weekend. The wait goes on.

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  1. Debi Edward

Edinburgh Zoo closes panda enclosure

Tian Tian is said to be becomming more sensitive to noise Credit: Reuters/David Moir

Edinburgh Zoo has closed off their panda enclosures to the public as Tian Tian continues to keep them guessing about her condition.

The female giant panda is still showing signs of being pregnant and in recent days has become increasingly sensitive to noise, prompting keepers to take the decision to stop public viewings of her and male partner Yang Guang.

Despite this move the Zoo can still not confirm whether or not Tian Tian is pregnant. She’s been keeping everyone, even the experts, guessing for almost a month now but this week is likely to provide us with an answer as the normal panda birthing season has already closed.

Her keepers who have been on 24 hour red alert since August 26th will be more glad than anyone that the waiting game is coming to an end.

Male panda Yang Guang is also being kept from public display Credit: Reuters/David Moir

Edinburgh Zoo: Panda Tian Tian pregnancy is 'atypical'

Officials at Edinburgh Zoo said they are continuing to monitor the hormone levels of giant panda Tian Tian whose pregnancy is "atypical".

In terms of Tian Tian’s possible pregnancy, we’re not out of the game yet although she’s keeping us on our toes.

Her hormones are following an atypical pattern, with lots of rises and dips, which make timings much harder to predict.

We are continually analysing hormone and protein samples and, based on the latest results, our external experts now believe Tian Tian may have experienced her secondary progesterone spike two weeks later than the results previously available suggested.

– Edinburgh Zoo spokeman

Zoo still waiting for confirmation of panda pregnancy

As Edinburgh Zoo waits to see if giant panda Tian Tian is pregnant they have revealed that her mystery pregnancy is especially difficult to verify.

In a statement the zoo said: "Predicting pregnancy in giant pandas isn’t straight forward and we’re all rapidly learning that Tian Tian is a panda whose behaviour and physiology appears to be more complicated than most."

If pregnant Tian Tian would give birth to the first panda born in the UK. Credit: Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

However the zoo remains hopeful that it could see a panda cub or two and say they will continue to monitor Tian Tian's hormones for more concrete evidence that she is pregnant.

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Zookeeper: Panda 'sticking to normal routine' so far

A zookeeper at Edinburgh Zoo, where it is hoped that Tian Tian the giant panda may be preparing to give birth, has said that so far she is "sticking to her normal routine".

Sharon Hatton said that Tian Tian is "doing very well" but that the zookeepers are "not seeing any changes" to suggest that a birth is imminent.

Timeline: Tian Tian's pregnancy

Tian Tian is set to give birth to the first panda born in the UK. Credit: Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

December 2011

Tian Tian (meaning Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine) arrive in Scotland from Ya'an reserve in Chengdu, China.

April 2012

The pair are introduced at Edinburgh Zoo and shown to a specially made "love tunnel", but they only go as far as wrestling.

Yang Guang and Tian Tian in the 'love tunnel'. Credit: Edinburgh Zoo

February 2013

The zoo launches a “panda-cam” so people across the world can watch the two giant pandas in the run-up to mating season.

April 2013

After failing to show signs that she is ready to mate, Tian Tian is artificially inseminated.

Tian Tian and Yang Guang wrestled but failed to mate. Credit: Edinburgh Zoo

June 2013

The zoo's plans to carry out an ultrasound to see if Tian Tian is pregnant are shelved because it is deemed too risky to sedate her.

August 2013

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland reveals that hormone changes indicate Tian Tian may be pregnant.

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