Britain's only female giant panda is artificially inseminated
BRITAIN'S only female giant panda has been artificially inseminated at Edinburgh Zoo.
Despite male Yang Guang showing "consistently encouraging behaviour," Tian Tian was showing signs that were not "conducive to mating," according to the zoo's panda experts.
Natural mating was not attempted.
There are only 1,600 of the animals - the rarest bears on earth - left in the wild. They are currently on the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) endangered list, mostly because of habitat loss.
According to the WWF, the Chinese government has established more than 50 panda reserves, but only around 61% of the country’s panda population is protected by these reserves.
A team of experts were monitoring the pandas as Tian Tian approached her crucial 36-hour breeding window.
A zoo spokeswoman said the procedure went well and the pandas will be off display until Tuesday.
"Edinburgh Zoo's specialist team and experts from around the world performed artificial insemination on female giant panda Tian Tian in the early hours of this morning," she said.
"Natural mating was not attempted. Yang Guang had been interested and shown consistently encouraging behaviour, however based on his many years' experience, our Chinese colleague Professor Wang felt that although Tian Tian had displayed all of the correct behaviours, she had also displayed signs that told him she would not be conducive to mating.
"Both pandas and humans are sleeping today. The procedures went very much to plan and they are both well, but will be off show until Tuesday."
If Tian Tian does conceive, confirmation will come in mid-July when experts can give her an ultrasound scan. Her cub, or cubs, would most likely be born in late August or early September.
The normal breeding season for pandas is mid-April to May.
James Legge, Independent.co.uk