Edinburgh Zoo to wait another year for tiny patter of baby panda paws

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MAYBE poor old Tian Tian should face facts and accept it – he’s just not that into her.

After two days of failed dates, keepers at Edinburgh Zoo decided to abandon the attempt to breed Scotland’s giant panda pair until next year.

Close but no cigar. Yang Guang failed to impregnate Tian Tian

Close but no cigar. Yang Guang failed to impregnate Tian Tian

But it was not only male Yang Guang who was showing apathy about the whole affair – Tian Tian’s hormone levels had dropped by yesterday morning and both animals were showing “limited breeding behaviour”.

In more straightforward parlance, they just did not seem to fancy each other any more.

As female pandas are only in heat for three days a year, any further attempts to create panda cubs in Scotland will have to be put on hold until next spring.

Early signs of hope when the pair play wrestled with each other and made “vocal” mating calls were dashed when the relationship did not progress beyond mere fumblings.

Attempts to encourage sparks to fly late on Wednesday failed and the possibility that they might meet for one final romantic tryst was thrown out yesterday morning when it was clear that the pair had lost interest.

Experts put the inability to mate down to the couple being “relatively inexperienced” – although they have both parented cubs before with other partners.

A statement issued by the zoo yesterday confirmed that Edinburgh would not be welcoming a baby panda to the world this year and said the pair were both back on view to the public.

“Results in late last night saw a drop in Tian Tian’s hormones and then limited breeding behaviour was seen in both pandas this morning,” it said. “As a result Tian Tian and Yang Guang were not put in together today.”

It added: “Edinburgh Zoo can announce that the panda breeding season for 2012 has now come to an end and both pandas are back on display.”

Yang Guang was probably feeling sheepish as he returned to public display yesterday as the world’s media – and social networkers – discussed his lack of romantic prowess.

Taiwanese animated news website nma.com yesterday created a video showing Yang Guang drinking Irn Bru and reading a copy of The Scotsman accompanied by the lyrics “Scotland proves a turn off for Sunshine and Sweetie” – the panda’s names in English.

“What will the zoo keepers do to encourage them to mate next year?” the website asked.

Comedian Robin Ince posted on Twitter: “Pandas at Edinburgh zoo have been moved to level 3 with both being given WKD and being placed near some metal bins.”

The independence debate was even put on the shoulders of the romantically hopeless pandas.

“Oh dear! If those pandas don’t soon do what’s expected of them Salmond could try to postpone the referendum until even later,” tweeted Labour peer Lord Foulkes.