Thursday, 15 March 2018

Edinburgh zoo halts giant panda breeding programme

Keepers to suspend efforts for at least a year and reassess strategy after five failed attempts

Severin Carrell Scotland editor
Tue 13 Mar 2018 11.09 GMTLast modified on Tue 13 Mar 2018 11.47 GMT

Edinburgh zoo has suspended its giant panda breeding programme for at least a year after failing five times to produce cubs through artificial insemination.

The zoo, run by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), said it needed to reassess its strategies before making a final decision on whether to again put its female Tian Tian through artificial insemination.

“We will not attempt to breed our giant pandas this year because we want to further assess the incredibly complex and unpredictable breeding process,” a spokeswoman said.

“This pause, which is supported by our giant panda team and other key specialists, will allow us further time to consider the scientific data, our own experiences and those of colleagues around the world, including the latest thinking on giant panda accommodation.”

The RZSS loaned Tian Tian and Yang Guang from China for 10 years in 2011, for a fee of $1m (£720,000) a year, as part of a £2.6bn trade deal.

Tian Tian had had twins in China in 2009, but the RZSS tried natural mating only once, in 2012. It subsequently used artificial insemination with Yang Guang’s semen and defrosted semen from a bear that had successfully bred at Berlin zoo.

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