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Edinburgh Zoo closes panda enclosure

by - Scotland Correspondent
Tian Tian in her enclosure in Edinburgh Zoo
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
Male panda Yang Guang is also being kept from public display Credit: Reuters/David Moir

Read: Edinburgh Zoo awaits panda baby birth


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."

Timeline: Tian Tian's pregnancy

If pregnant Tian Tian would give birth to the first panda born in the UK.
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.

Read more: Zoo on alert for possible pitter-patter of panda paws

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.

Read: Edinburgh Zoo on alert for historic panda baby birth


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.

Panda gives birth at Washington DC's National Zoo

A giant panda at Washington's National Zoo has given birth to her third cub today. Xiang Mei's second cub died last Autumn, while a cub in 2005 survived.

Giant panda gives birth at Washington's National Zoo. Credit: National Zoo

The zoo began monitoring Mei Xiang around the clock on August 7 in case she was pregnant. Zoo officials had said they could not be sure if the panda was pregnant because she would not permit them to examine her closely.

Read: Edinburgh panda 'pregnant'

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