Edinburgh Zoo will not breed giant pandas this year
12 March 2018, 16:43
Animal experts will make no attempt to breed the UK's only giant pandas this year, for the first time since 2012.
Tian Tian (Sweetie) will not bear a cub with Yang Guang (Sunshine) after a decision from bosses at Edinburgh Zoo.
The move was made to allow researchers to focus on the animals' mating process to improve the chances of future efforts.
A Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) spokeswoman said: "We will not attempt to breed our giant pandas this year because we want to further assess the incredibly complex and unpredictable breeding process.
"This pause, which is supported by our giant panda team and other key specialists, will allow us further time to consider the scientific data, our own experiences and those of colleagues around the world, including the latest thinking on giant panda accommodation.
"In the meantime, the pause will also enable us to make some enhancements to our giant panda enclosure which would not have been practical either during or between breeding seasons.
"We very much hope Tian Tian has a cub in the future and will be thrilled if this happens."
Tian Tian has had cubs before in China, but has not in the UK.
The zoo tried natural breeding in 2012 and has attempted artificial insemination each year since 2013.
It was announced in September that latest efforts to produce a cub had failed.
The black and white bears arrived on loan from China in December 2011 and are due to remain at Edinburgh Zoo for a decade.
In 2008 the zoo first announced it was in negotiations to bring a pair of giant pandas to Scotland.
The two were brought to the UK under a historic agreement between the UK and Chinese governments.