Tag Archives: Edinburgh Zoo

Tian Tian the panda is in the mood for love

Image supplied by Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

Tian Tian the panda, also known as Sweetie, may be ready to mate with Yang Guang as early as next week on Tuesday 3rd or Wednesday 4th April.

Edinburgh Zoo and their team of experts have identified an increase in Tian Tian’s oestrogen and a decrease in her progesterone. Female pandas only ovulate once a year, and there is only a 36 hour period in which a female panda can fall pregnant. The two pandas at Edinburgh Zoo will be introduced to each other on Tuesday for 15 minutes at at time. They will probably be put together three times on the first date of Tian Tian being in oestrus. If natural mating does not occur on the first day of oestrus, the zoo may consider the option of artificial insemination.

However, expert keepers will be keeping an eye on the two, as pandas often tend to fight after mating or instead of mating.

A spokesperson for Edinburgh Zoo said has said: “We understand that the whole country is in a state of heightened anticipation, but whatever the outcome of next week, we as animal conervationists and scientists have learnt a huge amount in such a short time about this captivating species. We are just delighted to be playing our part in the essential long term worldwide panda breeding programme.”

Image supplied by Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

Panda Mating Facts:

 Panda mating season is from March to May.

A female panda may be in heat from two to seven days.

Pandas reach reproductive maturity at the age of seven years which lasts until they are 20 years old.

A female panda attracts a mate by rubbing against trees and urinating which leaves a scent which grabs the attention of male pandas, as well as by bleating calls.

The male panda leaves the female panda after mating and has nothing to do with the raising of the cub.

Pandas can have between one to two cubs at a time, but because newborn pandas require a high amount of care the mother will usually reject one of the cubs.

Edinburgh Pandas get Lynx effect

by Pamela Paterson

It has been announced today that the two Giant Pandas at Edinburgh Zoo are to be sponsored by deodorant company Lynx during their mating season.

New Lynx advert featuring Edinburgh Zoo's pandas

Lynx is well-known for its advertising campaigns, which claim the opposite sex cannot fail to be wooed by the effect of their deodorant, known as the ‘Lynx Effect’. The new advert comes as the pandas begin their long-awaited breeding season.

While the pandas themselves are unlikely to be sprayed with the alluring scent of Lynx, smell does play a pivotal role in panda breeding. Iain Valentine, director of research and conservation at the zoo said, “In the wild pandas use a chemical communication system involving pheromones to locate and choose mates. Scent is also how males will know that female pandas are fertile.”

Tian Tian, the female panda, is being closely monitored by the zoo to see when she is ready to conceive. Pandas have been found to be notoriously picky in choosing their mates, however the zoo believes their pair are getting along well and there is a good chance they could mate.

Lynx, meanwhile believes its knowledge in attracting the opposite sex could come in handy when the Pandas choose to get together.  Kieran Danaher from Lynx said, “It’s the perfect time to partner with Edinburgh Zoo and use our attraction know-how to help out with panda mating season.”

Edinburgh Zoo prepares for panda-monium

by Pamela Paterson

Tian Tian, Edinburgh's future female panda.

Edinburgh Zoo is gearing up for the arrival of two Giant Pandas
that are being sent from China for a 10 year stay in Scotland.

Tian Tian and Yang Guang are currently in quarantine in China preparing for their 5000 mile journey to Scotland, where they will stay in a purpose-built enclosure in the zoo. It is hoped the pair will breed, helping to conserve the species which is in rapid decline. Pandas are notorious for their unwillingness to reproduce. Their future keeper Alison Maclean, who has just visited the pandas in China, believes that they will let her know if and when they are ready to take the plunge. She said, “Although they’ve both bred before, our two pandas haven’t met yet, so I’m looking forward to introducing them when the time is right.”

She added, “The conservational implications of this 10 year project are huge. It’s about working together globally to conserve this iconic species and contributing to the breeding programme.”

According to Ms Maclean, the Scottish climate is perfect for pandas, as they prefer cool, damp environments and do not like excessively hot weather. She said, “I’m particularly looking forward to seeing how they react to snow – they’re supposed to love it and are well used to it in the area of China they are from.”

The date has not yet been fixed for the panda’s arrival. The zoo is paying up to £600,000 a year for the privilege of keeping the pandas, not including the bill for the endless supply of bamboo needed to feed them. The zoo plans to grow a small amount of bamboo themselves (around 15%) and import the rest from a German supplier. Pandas eat up to 20, three-metre, bamboo stems every day.

The excitement is slowly building as the Scottish public awaits the special arrivals, whose enclosure includes bullet proof glass and a ‘love tunnel’. Ms Maclean, who has spent the past three weeks getting to know Tian Tian and Yang Guang, believes visitors will immediately fall in love with the pair. She says, “They’re actually enchanting – from how they sit down, to how they hold things, how they eat and how they take everything in around them. I think when people actually see them they will be mesmerised.”

Head of Edinburgh Zoo suspended

Edinburgh Zoo will soon welcomes two Chinese giant pandas

By Edoardo Zandona

Gary Wilson, the chief executive for Edinburgh Zoo was suspended yesterday after ‘anonymous allegations’ were made against him.

The nature of the allegations remains unknown, but a spokeswoman for the attraction said they are going to be treated ‘extremely seriously’. She also revealed that an internal and external examination are under way, although the police are not involved.

The suspension arrives immediately after the zoo announced the arrival of two specimen of giant pandas from China. Mr Wilson was responsible for all the zoo’s major projects, including the pandas import.

Edinburgh Zoo is owned by the Royal Zoo Society of Scotland, and is one of Britain’s biggest zoos. It opened in July 1913 and it attracts more than 600,000 visitors a year.


Monkeys in zoo ringfenced

By Brad Jones.

Six L’Hoest’s monkeys have been ringfenced by Edinburgh Zoo as it considers implementing swinging budget cuts in the face of falling visitor numbers.

The monkeys, which moved to Edinburgh from San Diego are said to have ‘settled in really well’ by Graham Catlow, Animal Project Design Officer at the zoo. Mr. Catlow went on to say that the move has been aided by the fact that the cages are quite similar to what the monkeys are used to from San Diego, and difficulties in temperature difference are being avoided thanks to an indoor area provided for the monkeys that is kept at a temperature between twenty and twenty five Celsius, with constant access to the outside available to the animals. Edinburgh Zoo has had previous success in producing breeding pairs, their last pair having given birth to three monkeys in recent years. The wild population of these animals is predicted to drop by 30% over the next thirty years.

The zoo is facing budget cuts after 60,000 less people visited the attraction over the past year. This drop in attendance is being attributed to bad weather over the Summer and has already resulted in the zoo closing its exotic bird enclosure and  its Rainbow Landings exhibit, which is said to have cost around £350,000. Despite this, Mr. Catlow maintained that there is ‘no way’ cuts will affect the animals, and that the animals are ‘always the first priority’ for the zoo.

These comments seem at odds with the culling of two endangered Red River Hogs at Edinburgh Zoo just two weeks ago after they said that they were unable to look after them, provoking outrage from animal rights organisations and their supporters. However, as numbers of L’Hoest’s monkeys dwindle, Edinburgh Zoo seems to be the best chance for the continued survival of this species.

Zoo Comes Under Fire for Cull of Piglets

By Emma Smith

Edinburgh Zoo is facing a public backlash after their culling of two healthy Red River hog piglets was revealed on Wednesday.

Sammi and Becca play together at Edinburgh Zoo

Sammi and Becca were born as part of a breeding programme in August of last year but the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) recommended the animals to be put down due to a surplus of the species.

The piglets were euthanised humanely at the beginning of this year and there are now fears for the three remaining piglets, Ellis, Moses and Nelson, although the zoo has said it intends to keep them as long as is viable.

The birth of these rare piglets was advertised by the zoo last summer, which has caused anger among many people, including animal rights organisation One Kind – formerly Advocates for Animals.

Policy Director, Libby Anderson, says: “It’s a really depressing story. This is an iconic case of why zoos are not as good as they say they are.

“The public paid money to go and see these cute and playful babies but what they didn’t realise was that they were destined to be put down.

“All pigs are very intelligent and have individual characteristics, thoughts and feelings. Doesn’t their life have a value?”

The population of the Red River hog is in decline in its native Africa due to hunting. One Kind believe educating the huntsmen is the way forward, not taking part in captive breeding programmes, which ultimately result in culling surplus animals.

The hogs, also known as bush pigs, can live for up to 20 years and in their natural habitat live near swamps and marshes.

Edinburgh Zoo issued a statement saying: “If a species does not have breeding recommendation for the EEP, the EEP will advise the culling rather than re-homing of a species.

“As a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, it is imperative that the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland complies with the recommendations given.”

They also added that the reason the hogs were not prevented from breeding was to  “ensure the animals in our collection lead as natural a life as possible.”

Culling of unwanted young is a common practice among zoos, although frequency and exact details are not always known. In May 2006 the Highland Wildlife Park in Kincraig came under fire when a pack of Mackenzie River wolves were culled because they were not displaying their natural behaviour.

Mercedes has a new base

By Lori Cormack, 22nd October 2009

polar-bear-tongue.jpegScotland’s only polar bear has had her first public viewing in her new habitat today.

Mercedes was moved from Edinburgh Zoo to the Highland Wildlife Park, in Inverness-shire, on Monday. But today has been the first opportunity for visitors to see the rare beast.

The move comes after zoo bosses believed her new enclosure of more than four acres was thought to suit that of wild polar bears more than her previous enclosure at the capitals zoo.

Douglas Richardson, animal collection manager at the Highland wildlife park told BBC news that all went well during the transfer.

He said ‘She has settled in very well and we’re looking forward to seeing her explore her outdoor enclosure which, at around four acres, is one of the largest polar bear enclosures in the world.’

Mercedes (so called because the car-giants paid for her transfer) was brought to Scotland from Canada 20 years ago. It is thought Mercedes is around 27 years old, and these types of bears can live in to their early 30s.

In 2005, Edinburgh Zoo unveiled plans for a new multi-million pound enclosure for the rare animal, in order to ensure her future at the attraction. However, this was met with great criticism from animal rights groups, who claimed that Mercedes was distressed and bored. They also claimed that polar bears should not be kept in captivity due to their high level of intelligence and called for the Zoo to have the animal moved to a better environment.

Polar Expedition

by Wendy Wan

One of Edinburgh’s most famous resident is moving home.  Mercedes, the only polar bear in the UK, has acquired a new home with the Highland Wildlife Park.

Arriving at the age of 3 from Canada, Mercedes has been with Edinburgh Zoo for the past 25 years and has become one of the biggest draws of  the zoo. 

Through donations, £75,000 was raised  to construct Mercedes new home of over 4 acres, making it one of the largest polar bear enclosures in Europe.   With the aid of  the armies equipment and time, Mercedes will soon be residing in a brand new enclosure.  A  platform will be constructed to provide visitors a “unique insight into the natural behaviour” of bears and a large natural pool will be there for Mercedes to enjoy.   

When the time comes for Mercedes to bid farewell to Edinburgh she will be travelling up North in a transport crate, and will be given time to settle in before visitors  are given the opportunity to say hello.

Whether what is going to fill Mercedes paw prints is still up in debate, David Windmill, Chief Executive for RZSS  said, “We realise that the departure of Mercedes will leave a void at Edinburgh Zoo and the wheels are in motion to introduce new and exciting species in the coming months.” 

The last day to say goodbyeMercedes to Mercedes will be on Sunday 18 October. 






News in Brief

By Rebeca Calvo-Gaspar


Firrhill Drive in fire. More than 40 firefighters from the Lothian & Borders Fire and Rescue Service helped to extinguish the fire. Some parts of the building to be demolished due to safe and security reasons. No one was harmed during the incident.

Adopt a wild animal for Christmas. The Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park launch this campaign as a way to finance and support the cost of feeding and keeping these animals.


“Thank you” parades. More than 300 soldiers returned from a six-months operational tour in Afghanistan will take part in three parades in Penicuik, Glasgow and Ayr to thank families and friend for their support.

Rats in Glasgow. Almost 4000 calls for help made by more than concerned neighbors. Glasgow’s West End is the most affected area.


Men’s wages still higher than women’s. The Office for National Statistics calculates and 17.01% pay gap from 17% last year. An average full-time working woman would lose around £369,000 during her whole working life, the Equality and Human Right Commission estimates.

The Prince of Wales celebrates his 60th birthday launching the Price’s Trust’s Youth week in East London. This charity helps 14 to 30 years-old who are unemployed, with no education or training.


Official recession in Europe. Figures show the economy contracted 0,2% during the third quarter. Second consecutive negative growth define a recession. Germany and Italy first to join the club of which no country wants to be a member.

Recycled urine for astronauts. The US Space Agency invested $250m in the water recycling gear which converts waste-water, including urine, into fresh water for drinking.