BABY incubators have been delivered to Edinburgh Zoo as staff prepare for the posible arrival of the UK’s first panda cub - or cubs.
As the world eagerly awaits news of Tian Tian’s pregnancy, zoo bosses have said that while they are still not 100% sure she is pregnant, her hormone levels are encouraging and staff are on high alert in case she goes into labour.
Tests have shown Tian Tian may be having panda twins.
And the zoo have taken delivery of the incubators which will help keep any cubs alive in the vital first days.
Panda cubs weigh between three to five ounces and are small enough fit in the palm of your hand - they are just 1/900th of what their mother weighs and are born blind.
The equivalent for a human would be a 120pound woman carrying a two-ounce baby.
Apart from marsupials no other mammal has a smaller child realative to its mother than a panda.
The cubs, which are born without the trademark black patches, are so small mothers can even squash them in their nests in the wild.
Panda incubators are vital for breeding in captivity, as the bears often give birth to twins but the mother will only look after one.
They also protect the bears from infections, and cubs can stay in them for several weeks before being reunited with their mothers.
Newborn pandas are born unable to regulate their own body temperatures, so the incubators can prevent them from getting too cold.
Atlanta Zoo in the US, which celebrated the birth of twin panda cubs last month, rotated the cubs between an incubator and their mother to ensure they received the nurturing they need.
The stresses of pregnancy may be getting to the pandas, as the zoo closed their enclosures this week.
The zoo said today: “We’ve temporarily closed the panda enclosure today, just like yesterday, as both pandas are choosing to be off show.
“Yang Guang is a bit under the weather and obviously it’s a sensitive time for Tian Tian.
“We’re finding both pandas are currently very active at night and communicating a lot through the grate between their outdoor enclosures.
“Yang Guang in particular has been very energised and we believe, although little research has been done on this, that he is responding to her hormones and chemical cues, leaving him particularly tired during the day.
“At this important time we’re going to give them both the opportunity to be off show and will keep reassessing things on a daily basis.”