PERFORMING handstands, eating copious amounts of bamboo and scent-marking, Edinburgh Zoo’s male panda Yang Guang is stepping up his efforts to impress his female companion Tian Tian as breeding season approaches.
The handstands against trees, rocks and his enclosure walls let him scent-mark as high as possible, a display of virility.
Zoo experts say the changes in the bears’ behaviour indicate that they will be ready to mate in as little as four weeks’ time.
They are able to predict when both giant pandas are ready to breed by a combination of behavioural observation and hormone testing, but to date no hormonal changes have been seen in either creature.
Yang Guang normally eats 35kg of bamboo a day, but is currently munching through 50kg in an effort to bulk up and reach peak physical condition.
His greatly increased appetite is down to needing enough energy to move through the forest to travel to females’ territories and compete against other males in the wild, and he is expected to eat up to 100kg of bamboo a day as breeding season nears.
Tian Tian has started calling out to her mate – common behaviour during breeding season – and he has been spotted peering into her enclosure.
Tian Tian came into season on 2 April last year, and experts believe breeding season may fall during March this year.