EXPERTS at Edinburgh Zoo hope good breeding runs in Yang Guang’s family: his father is a world record holder, fathering an impressive 107 cubs.
The signs are good, too, for his prospective mate, Tian Tian. Her mother is known as Panda Mum in China, where she gave birth to a number of cubs.
Yang Guang himself is already a father, while Tian Tian previously gave birth to twins, but the pair have never bred together.
Pandas are notoriously poor breeders. The female is only on heat for three days every year and there is only about a 48-hour period in which she can become pregnant.
Chinese chargé d’affaires Qin Gang said: “The father of Yang Guang keeps the world record of fathering 107 panda cubs, and the mother of Tian Tian, known as Panda Mum, has also given birth to many baby pandas.
“I hope that this pair will carry the genes of their parents.”
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon added: “I know we’re all keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the arrival of a little MacPanda some time before too long.”
Cubs are often born as twins. However, in the wild, the mother often favours one twin over the other – usually the first born – and can ignore the second, sometimes leaving it to die.
Gestation of giant pandas can last any time between 95 and 165 days and their babies are just 1/900th their mother’s body weight.
Tian Tian and Yang Guang will live in separate enclosures, as pandas are solitary animals, and will be brought together only for the short time in the spring when Tian Tian is on heat.
The failure of giant pandas to breed has long been studied by researchers, who have even resorted to methods including Viagra and “panda porn” – showing them videos of other mating pandas – to encourage them to mate.