Scotland’s two pandas will be returned to China this year having failed to produce offspring in the past 12 years because they ‘just don’t get on’.
The two giant pandas, named Tian Tian (which translates as Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine), arrived at Edinburgh Zoo in December 2011.
Huge crowds rushed to the zoo when the pair first arrived on a 10-year lease -extended due to Covid – after years of negotiation between Scotland and China.
Numerous attempts were made to encourage the pair to breed – with keepers even resorting to artificial insemination – since 2013.
However Yang Guang was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2018 and was later castrated.
The two pandas are likely to be split when they return to china, but one expert thinks they won’t mind at all.
The two giant pandas, named Tian Tian (which translates as Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine), arrived at Edinburgh Zoo in December 2011 but will be returning to China this year
Alison MacLean, giant panda team leader at Edinburgh Zoo, said they are likely to be split up in China
Edinburgh Zoo shells out £640,000 a year just to rent the pandas from the Bifengxia Breeding Centre in Sichuan province.
There are only 1,864 pandas left in the wild, the WWF estimates, part of the reason is because all female pandas are only fertile for two or three days a year.
Alison MacLean, giant panda team leader at Edinburgh Zoo, told The Mirror: ‘I’d have loved to have seen Tian Tian with a youngster.’
Despite having lived together for 12 years, in separate but adjoining enclosures, Tian Tian and Yang Guang are likely to be split up when they go back to China.
She explains: ‘It’s highly unlikely they’ll live together, because they tend to constantly be solitary anyway.
‘She’s quite happy never to see him and he’s quite happy to never see her.’
In January David Field, chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said female Tian Tian and male Yang Guang appeared to be a perfect match when they arrived from China in 2011.
Mr Field told the Telegraph the pandas did not gel at their Edinburgh Zoo home.
The male Yang Guang, also known as Sunshine, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2018 and was later castrated
Numerous attempts were made to encourage the pair to breed – with keepers even resorting to artificial insemination – since 2013
Female Tian Tian, also known as Sweetie, had produced twins prior to her arrival in Scotland.
He said ‘perhaps Tian Tian wouldn’t have swiped right’ in reference to the dating app Tinder.
‘They are one of the most fantastic ambassadors for people falling back in love with nature.
‘But I think the biggest disappointment has been for Tian Tian, because that maternal cycle is really important for them as part of their natural behavioural repertoire – everything from all the hormonal cycles to the nest building to rearing.’
He added: ‘Sometimes animals just don’t get on. Genetically they were apparently an extremely good match but behaviourally, if it was Tinder, perhaps Tian Tian wouldn’t have swiped right if she had the choice.’
‘They are hugely emblematic, they are iconic for conservation and they make people smile with sheer abandonment.’
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