Report Card
Pregnancy Possible in Female Giant Panda

A second hormone rise in progesterone levels has been detected in female giant panda Tian
Tian, which indicates she may be pregnant or experiencing pseudo pregnancy. This means
that in around 40 to 55 days Tian Tian will either give birth to a cub or her false pregnancy
will end; future hormone testing will determine this either way.

To Recap
In ground-breaking science taking place for the first time in the UK, Tian Tian was artificially
inseminated in late April. For medical reasons, a mixture of frozen and fresh semen samples
were used; with fresh and frozen samples from Yang Guang needing to be augmented with
frozen semen from Bao Bao, another extremely genetically important panda and previously
the last panda on British soil.
Science & Conservation Research
Confirming if a female giant panda is pregnant is always difficult and it is still early days, but
science is giving results that offer cause for encouragement. In addition to checking for
progesterone level rises, RZSS is employing cutting edge acute protein analysis techniques
pioneered by Memphis Zoo, and also used by Washington Zoo. Only used in a few female
pandas around the world, the tests have been refined further by RZSS. Too early to be
classed as definitive or be relied upon, results do suggest the hormone profile of a pregnant
panda that will carry to full term. The results of these tests will retrospectively add to
collective worldwide scientific knowledge. An ultrasound did not prove possible as it is totally
optional and Tian Tian chose not to participate. At any rate ultrasounds provide only part of
the picture and are often inconclusive.

The zoo’s panda team is continuing to monitor Tian Tian closely and she is showing nesting
behaviour, is off her food and is restless. Both pregnant and pseudo pregnant pandas show
this behaviour.
Panda Cubs
If Tian Tian is pregnant, a Chinese expert will fly over before the birth and stay at Edinburgh
Zoo for the first few months of the cub’s life. If twins are born it is likely that one will be
mother reared and one hand reared as pandas are only able to rear one cub themselves. As
per Chinese tradition, the cub(s) will be named at 100 days after birth and then would likely
go on show to members of the public on 1st January 2014. Paternity will be confirmed at
around one to three months by conservation geneticists in the RZSS WildGenes laboratory
using blood samples. Any cub born at Edinburgh Zoo would be the property of the People’s
Republic of China and RZSS would be proud to have contributed to the worldwide
conservation effort to save the giant panda. Any cubs born would return to China after two


The next change in Tian Tian’s hormones that should confirm if she is pregnant or not wil be around mid-August; if there is a cub, it could be born between late August and early September.

Source: http://www.rzss.org.uk/media/3999/PandaPregnancy_ReportCard_Aug2013.pdf


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