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Video: Edinburgh Zoo’s panda mating hopes

Tian Tian performs some impressive gymnastics with her ball. Picture: Alison Maclean/Edinburgh Zoo

Tian Tian performs some impressive gymnastics with her ball. Picture: Alison Maclean/Edinburgh Zoo

It was an energetic performance which was sure to attract the attention of potential suitors.

Edinburgh Zoo’s female giant panda, Tian Tian, was captured on video executing a spectacular and gymnastic forward roll.

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And as she shows off her best moves in the footage, onlookers could have been forgiven for thinking the Chinese bear was putting on a show for would-be mate Yang Guang in the run-up to Valentine’s Day.

The three-minute video – uploaded on to YouTube by the zoo – shows the nine-year-old panda having the time of her life as she chases around a bright red ball.

The cheeky bear exhibits great ball control as she dribbles the toy across the room before attempting some acrobatic moves.

Watching as she displays her hidden talents, a laughing bystander says: “I think we can safely say that’s a hit.”

Zoo chiefs were hoping Yang Guang was left equally impressed – especially with breeding season fast approaching.

But they said he needed a bit more encouragement to show interest in his own ball.

The zoo’s Alison Maclean, who is charge of looking after the pandas and filmed the footage, said: “Yang Guang just took one sniff at his ball, turned his nose up and wandered off – we think he just wasn’t interested as he couldn’t eat it!

“He definitely prefers food-based enrichment like honey, panda cake and apples.”

She added: “We’re planning on rolling Yang Guang’s ball round in Tian Tian’s hay to cover it in her scent, so we imagine he might suddenly get interested in the ball then.”

The two bears were first introduced to the balls behind the scenes and then in their indoor enclosures.

Keepers will continue to give the balls to both pandas to play with every couple of weeks – ensuring they stay a novelty – scenting them with different smells each time.

It is hoped the zoo will soon hear the pitter patter of tiny panda paws after the bears failed to mate last year.

Breeding giant pandas is notoriously difficult, with the females only able to conceive for 36 hours every 12 months.

The zoo’s panda YouTube channel has proved popular, with more than 750,000 visitors having watched the pair wrestling and Tian Tian making mating calls.

Ms Maclean said: “At Edinburgh Zoo, we devise regular programmes of enrichment for all of our animals. Designed to encourage natural behaviour and to stimulate animals mentally and physically, it’s something keepers and animals alike particularly enjoy.

“We continually trail various enrichment with our giant pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, and recently we introduced special extra tough coloured balls, specifically designed for animals like bears, into their separate enclosures.”

 

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