14:36 09 August 2013
A female giant panda at Edinburgh Zoo could possibly be pregnant it has emerged, as zoo keepers at the zoo have said that there are “strong indications” the panda is pregnant.
It is understood that a baby giant panda has not been born in the UK before.
The female panda is named Tian Tian and it is understood her hormone levels are one aspect that suggest she may be pregnant, following artificial insemination in April. The zoo says that other signs include behavioural changes.
It has been reported that Tian Tian and male giant panda Yang Guang have tried to mate naturally on two occasions before but were not successful.
"The hormone concentrations we measured in the urine sample from the panda increased," said Doctor Martin Dehnhard of the Leibniz Institute.
"That tells me that she is pregnant or pseudo-pregnant."
Some animals can have phantom pregnancies including pandas, although the zoo has used a test to try and rule this out.
It will not be known for certain if Tian Tian is pregnant until the late stages of her pregnancy – this relates to days before a baby panda is born.
It is believed that if the panda is pregnant she could give birth between late August and early September.
The Director of the panda programme at Edinburgh Zoo Iain Valentine told the BBC: “It's hugely exciting. There's never been a baby panda born in the UK.”
The baby panda would belong to People's Republic of China. It would go there after two years. Edinburgh Zoo presently gives the Chinese government approximately £600,000 annually for Tian Tian and Yang Guang.
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