Edinburgh zoo has artificially inseminated their Giant Panda Tian Tian. Tian Tian didn’t mate with her partner naturally so zoo staff made the decision to inseminate her artificially. This procedure was carried out on Sunday afternoon.
Director of Pandas for Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Iain Valentine said both were showing very positive signs. ‘We were hopeful natural mating would occur this year, but in the end Tian Tian’s hormones started to fall quickly’ he said. Giant Pandas have a very short oestrous cycle. Generally this will only last one to three days. The Chinese expert, Doctor Wang Chendong ‘was confident the pair would mate naturally.’ Unfortunately her window closed quickly as such they moved quickly to artificial insemination. Tian Tian was only inseminated with samples from her partner Yang Guang.
Pandas go through pseudo pregnancies and also experience delayed implantation. As such Valentine expects ‘we will not 100% know if Tian Tian is pregnant until she gives birth. This is usually August to September but can continue much later.’
This was proven last year by Tian Tian’s pregnancy. She was expecting a baby up until October. Zoo staff knew she was pregnant but believe she reabsorbed the foetus. This is a common occurrence in pandas. This pregnancy was caused by the first artificial insemination of a giant panda ever performed in the UK.
Zoo CEO, Chris West said “If we can successfully assist Tian Tian and Yang Guang to breed, we will be adding to the total number of pandas in zoos around the world and in breeding centres in China. The more there are, the greater and more diverse the gene pool is from which pandas can be selected for re-introduction.’ These pandas are part of the breeding program which last year saw 2 pandas reintroduced into Sichuan province.
You can follow Tian Tian’s journey at Edinbrugh Zoo’s website.