Edinburgh panda Yuang Guang has metabolic illness

Yuang Guang has been off his bamboo and sleeping more. 'Picture: Neil Hanna
Yuang Guang has been off his bamboo and sleeping more. 'Picture: Neil Hanna
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Yuang Guang,the male giant panda, has been aping his sweetheart and ­suffering from an illness that’s left him with a bad case of the blues.

But, feeling left out, it seems Worried staff at Edinburgh Zoo noticed the male panda had been off his bamboo and had been sleeping even more than usual.

Tian Tian may still be pregnant

Discounting sympathy pains or the stress of imminent fatherhood, experts carried out blood tests to find the source of his woes.

They discovered the ten-year-old has a metabolic disorder – which is stopping his body making the energy it needs from food.

The condition, which has left him with low blood calcium levels, means it is he that is taking vitamin supplements – rather than his mate.

A zoo spokesman said: “Yang Guang has been a bit off colour for the last three weeks, with periods of reduced appetite, low energy and mobility. He has also reacted to the sounds and smells of female Tian Tian’s late potential ­pregnancy.

“As with any other animal, our veterinary team carried out some routine blood sample and imaging tests.”

Fortunately, specialists were already on hand in the Capital to assist with Tian Tian’s ­possible pregnancy.

Yang Guang was put under a light anaesthetic while vets carried out the procedures – thought to include an ­endoscopy.

The spokesman added: “It was a good time to carry out the tests as one of our Chinese veterinary experts was still in Edinburgh after the Giant Panda Research Symposium.

“Thankfully nothing major was found, which is great news. We believe he may have a minor metabolic disorder with reduced blood levels of calcium.

“Our expert veterinary team has put in place a regime of supplements and he is showing significant improvement and his keepers are really happy with him. We expect him to recover in a matter of weeks.”

Panda expert Jeroen Jacobs said giant pandas were susceptible to health issues although he had never heard of one with Yang Guang’s complaints.

Vitamin supplements would help control the problem, he said. “There are many problems giant pandas can have. A health check is indeed something that can be necessary if they see something is not going so well with the animal.

“I am sure that experts at Edinburgh Zoo can see what is going wrong with him and if he indeed needs any supplements.

“I have not heard of any other giant panda having the condition outside of China but not all zoos share details.”

Meanwhile, the panda enclosure remains closed to the public as the world awaits news on Tian Tian’s situation.

Staff at the zoo remain ­optimistic they will see an addition to the family but it is still unclear whether Tian Tian is actually pregnant.

Unsuccessful pregnancies – where the female re-absorbs the foetus – are extremely common but hopes have not faded altogether. Jeroen added: “Will she give birth or will she not? We will find out soon I think.”

Not the first time this panda has been ill

THIS is not the first time Yang Guang has been sick since moving to the Capital. A month after the pandas arrived at the zoo, the male panda was struck down with a bout of colic.

More associated with human babies, it is also fairly common in pandas. It is not serious but causes discomfort.

Yang Guang had an endoscopy to put a camera into his bowel to get a clear picture of any internal problems. He was taken off display for two weeks and given anti-inflammatory medication.

Experts expect him to bounce back from this latest little illness, after his vitamin supplements kick in.