Emma Cowing: Making babies is not a black-and-white issue

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ON THE first anniversary of the arrival of the Edinburgh pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, an exclusive extract from female panda Tian Tian’s secret diary has been smuggled out of the zoo and sent to The Scotsman.

Dear Diary,

A year already. Where did the time go? I practically feel like a local. I had salt and sauce on my bamboo the other day, I have lots of important views about the tramworks that I’m prepared to shout loudly about at dinner parties, and I met someone the other day who swore their mum’s cousin’s nan was on Sean Connery’s milk round.

Actually, it’s been easier to adapt to life here in Edinburgh than I thought it would be, and not just because they sell Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Eclat undereye concealer at Harvey Nichols.

At this time of year it’s easily as cold here as it was in China, although my goodness the Scots do make a fuss about it. You’d think they’d been forced to scale the north face of the Eiger the way they panic about a bit of snow and ice, as if making it on the bus to Corstorphine were a Herculean feat achievable only by a handful of brave souls kitted out with crampons and pickaxes. I ask you. A bit of snow never hurt us pandas. (Although on the downside it does make it harder to hide from Yang Guang next door. Apparently my expertly made-up black eyes are a dead giveaway.)

All this better mean I get to vote in that referendum I keep hearing about. If I’m to live in the land of Irn-Bru and heather honey for another nine years, 
I want a say in how this place is run. After all, we’ve done loads for Scottish tourism just by lounging about and munching on bamboo, which is more than I’ve seen that Alex Salmond character do.

Anyway, our pandaversary, as some wags in the zoo have been calling it, was a bit of a non-event. The keepers made a big fuss of course, giving us a cake and dropping hints about anniversaries being “a special time”, nudge nudge, wink wink. Not that Yang Guang was particularly fussed. Honestly, I’ve seen more emotion in an episode of The Only Way Is Essex.

Truth be told, I think he’s in a bit of a grump. The keepers have started turning our lights out at the same time it gets dark outside – something to do with hormones and “getting in synch” before we “try again” – so at this time of year we’re both in our beds by 5pm. The penguins think it’s hilarious, braying over the wall at us and calling us lightweights. Poor Yang Guang, I don’t think his ego can take it.

Speaking of egos however, I can’t pretend to be anything other than massively miffed with the Duchess of Cambridge. How dare she steal my baby thunder? OK, so technically speaking I’m not actually pregnant yet, but I was sure I’d get there before her. I mean, I’m the one with a team of experts monitoring my evacuations on a daily basis and catering to my every whim in order to give me the best chance of producing a sprog. Mind you, come to think about it she probably has a bunch of people who do that for her too, just in slightly smarter outfits.

But really, this royal news has rather put the pressure on me when it comes to producing some sort of heir. This year I think everyone was just pleased we were here, and they were really nice about it when Yang Guang and I had that embarrassing “close but no cigar” situation.

But I suspect the sympathy will start to wane if we don’t get it on this time. Honestly. As if it were my fault that pandas can only get pregnant for 36 hours every year.

In fact, they’re so keen on making it work that even though we won’t actually have our “special time” together until late March or early April, they’re determined to have us bed-swapping by January. Well, I say bed-swapping. In reality it’ll mean we get to nose about each other’s quarters to get a bit of a scent for each other. I keep trying to tell them there’s no need – I can smell Yang Guang’s Old Spice from half a mile away.

What the Duchess of Cambridge doesn’t know, however, is that I have one last trick up my furry sleeve. She might be pregnant already, but us pandas can give birth just three months after we conceive. So if I can get pregnant by April, I might just pop before she does. And while some folk might get excited about a future king or queen being born, no-one’s going to be able to resist a cute little baby panda, are they? Game on, duchess.