Giant Panda Tian Tian conceives at Edinburgh Zoo
Edinburgh zoo's Giant Panda Tian Tian has conceived after artifical insemination, although it is not possible yet to detect whether she is actually pregnant, experts at the zoo said on Wednesday.
"It is still way too early to make any definitive predictions," said Iain Valentine, Director of Giant Pandas for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS).
"Tests do indicate that Tian Tian has conceived, but not that she is pregnant," he added in a statement on the zoo's website.
Tian Tian and her mate Yang Guang arrived in 2011 as the first pandas in the United Kingdom for 17 years. On loan for 10 years from their native China, they are central to an international conservation project.
There are fewer than 2,500 mature Giant Pandas in the wild, according to a 2008 survey by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. After five years of negotiation between politicans and conservationists, RZSS and the China Wildlife Conservation Association agreed on a programme of research and breeding.
Any cubs born in Scotland, which has a similar climate to their native habitat in the Sichuan mountains, will remain at Edinburgh Zoo for two to three years before reintroduction into the wild in China.
"Timings are all approximate, but we have just seen a secondary rise in progesterone in early July, so if all still remains on track, in 20 to 30 days pregnancy will commence," said Valentine.
If successful, Tian Tian will be expected to give birth around late August, just before September's referendum on Scottish independence.