EXPERTS at Edinburgh Zoo have said the giant pandas are likely to be ready to breed within the next 10 days.
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) announced that scientific tests have revealed the important hormonal crossover in progesterone and oestrogen in female giant panda Tian Tian.
Tian Tian is only able to conceive for 36 hours each year, and experts believe this fertile window will fall within the next 10 days, or perhaps even less.
Iain Valentine, Director of Giant Pandas for RZSS, said: “It was really evident first in Tian Tian’s behaviour that she was experiencing or about to experience hormone changes and that the important crossover was here. Her behaviour altered dramatically immediately before, she became very grumpy, went off her food and became a little temperamental.
“This was backed up by the scientific results when they came back from the Centre for Integrative Physiology at the University of Edinburgh and Chester Zoo – who both analyse samples of Tian Tian’s urine collected twice a day, each and every day.
“Based on these behavioural changes and hormone testing, we are now able to predict that
the important 36 hour breeding window when both pandas are likely to meet is imminent. Scientific results alone would suggest the day is just less than 10 days away, however as
Tian Tian’s behavioural changes are coming in so strongly we cannot rule out that the key
36 hour window may be much sooner.”
This is the second time Tian Tian has come into season in Scotland, and the keepers will continue to observe the pairs’ behaviour and carry out hormonal testing.
When the 36 hour window falls, Tian Tian and Yang Guang will meet several times to have the opportunity to mate. As Tian Tian finally ovulates and her hormones fall off, artificial insemination will also take place.
Should Tian Tian fall pregnant, zoo experts will be able to confirm the news by carrying out ultrasound scans in July or the first half of August.
The majority of giant panda cubs are born at the very end of August or beginning of September.