Sugary Chinese bamboo to help pandas mate

Giant Panda Tian Tian  in her enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo.  Pic Ian Rutherford
Giant Panda Tian Tian in her enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo. Pic Ian Rutherford
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SUGAR-rich bamboo is set to be imported from China to feed Edinburgh Zoo’s giant pandas in the hope it will improve their chances of breeding successfully.

Bosses at the zoo revealed last week that they have begun regular monitoring of female panda Tian Tian’s hormones as they wait for her to hit her brief period of fertility.

And after disappointment last year, when Tian Tian was artificially inseminated but is believed to have suffered a miscarriage, staff are hopeful Yang Guang and Tian Tian will this year produce a cub - and plan to fly-in bamboo from china to help boost their chances of success.

Bamboo for the pair is supplied from Holland, and while there is no evidence diet played any significant role in Tian Tian’s pregnancy, Iain Valentine, director of the giant panda project at the zoo, said the sugary bamboo from China could help Tian Tian bulk-up.

He estimated that a tonne of shoots would be needed, and added: “Fresh, sugar-rich bamboo is difficult to get hold of, but if possible we will bring it in from China,” he said.

“The shoots are jam-packed with sugar and a little goes a long way. It’s like eating a stick of Blackpool rock.”