Male panda ‘responding to Tian Tian pregnancy’

Yang Guang. Picture: Neil Hanna
Yang Guang. Picture: Neil Hanna
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Edinburgh Zoo’s male panda Yang Guang has gone into hiding as he deals with partner Tian Tian’s pregnancy hormones.

Visitors to the zoo were disappointed to find the star attractions’ enclosure closed, with both Giant Pandas now off show

Panda fans who made their way to see the animals yesterday were told neither would be on view due to sickness.

But a spokeswoman for the attraction said Yang Guang had chosen to remain under cover – adding there was a chance he was responding to Tian Tian’s hormones.

Tian Tian has already chosen to keep out of public view for most of this week.

The female is off her food, moody and showing signs of “nesting” behaviour, which experts say is a strong sign the long-awaited pregnancy is now a reality.

Her hormone and protein levels suggest she is expecting a cub in what would be a huge success after the zoo resorted to artificial insemination in April after Tian Tian and male panda Yang Guang tried and failed to mate naturally.

A spokeswoman for the zoo said: “It wouldn’t be unlikely that Yang Guang is picking up on Tian Tian’s pregnancy hormones and unusual behaviour. “She’s giving off very different signals and he’s responding to them.

“It isn’t unheard of for male pandas who are close to females in the later stages of their pregnancy to respond in this way.

“We have given him the chance to be off show, as we always do.”

The spokeswoman added that it was likely the panda enclosure would reopen as 
normal today.

If pregnant, Tian Tian will be reaching the later stages of her pregnancy with experts predicting she will give birth between now and September 10.

Pseudo or phantom pregnancies are extremely common in pandas, but if Tian Tian does give birth, the newborn cub – which will be pink, hairless and blind – will weigh in at just three to five ounces.

A giant panda baby is the smallest mammal newborn relative to its mother’s size, outside of marsupials.