October 15, 2013
Scotland’s Beloved Giant Panda Tian Tian Suffers Miscarriage
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Officials at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland have announced that Tian Tian, Edinburgh Zoo’s beloved female giant panda, is no longer pregnant. The zoo said in a statement today that all of Tian Tian's hormonal and behavioral signs indicate that she had conceived and carried a fetus until late term, but then lost it.
“We are all saddened by this turn of events after so many weeks of waiting. Timings are difficult to pinpoint at this moment, but we had a meeting this morning where Tian Tian’s behavior and hormone results were reviewed and have come to the conclusion that it is very likely she has lost the pregnancy," said Chris West, Chief Executive Officer for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.
He said that up until now, the giant panda had consistently shown signs of pregnancy and experienced a prolonged secondary-rise in progesterone. However, the veterinary team began noticing a significant decline in the amount of colostrum being produced, and over the past few days the panda returned to the normal eating and behavioral patterns of a non-pregnant female.
"Such a loss has always been in our minds as a very real possibility, as it occurs in giant pandas as well as many other animals, including humans. Our dedicated team of keepers, veterinary staff and many others worked tirelessly to ensure Tian Tian received the best care possible, which included remote observation and closing the panda enclosure to visitors to give her quiet and privacy," West said.
Officials are conducting a detailed review of the scientific data to ensure the zoo did everything possible for Tian Tian. West pointed out that the majority of research centers and zoos with giant pandas have not successfully bred until the third or fourth year, yet they were able to get Tian Tian pregnant in less than two years.
"New hormone research is beginning to indicate that lost pregnancies are more common in giant pandas than first thought, though at the moment no one knows why," he said. "We are working as part of a global giant panda conservation program and will continue to work closely with our international colleagues."
"Giant pandas are brilliant ambassadors for other endangered species like Scottish wildcats, basking sharks, bumblebees and butterflies. We exist to safeguard species from extinction. We will carry on and are confident we will succeed."
The panda enclosure at the Edinburgh Zoo will remain closed in order to give Tian Tian time to get back into her normal routine.