UK's only panda pair ushered into zoo 'love channel' for 36-hour mating attempt


Male panda Yang Guang makes his first appearance in front of the media since arriving from China on December 12, 2011 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The eight-year-old pair of giant pandas arrived on a specially chartered flight from China over a week ago and are the first to live in the UK for 17 years. Edinburgh zoo are hopeful that the pandas will give birth to cubs during their 10 year stay in Scotland.


Jeff J Mitchell

Giant panda Tian Tian (Sweetie), meet Giant panda Yang Guang (Sunshine). Please be so kind as to proceed into the "love tunnel." You have exactly 36 hours to do...well, you know. 

Female pandas ovulate annually and are only fertile for a 36-hour period. Edinburgh Zoo officials said Tian Tian had ovulated overnight, leading keepers to ready the so-called love channel today for the UK's sole giant panda couple, according to The Belfast Telegraph

"The love tunnel is being opened and the bears will be able to meet each other that way," a zoo official told The Belfast Telegraph. "Today is the first time they have been introduced to each other."

The zoo also tactfully turned off the "pandacam," which allows people to view animals online, said the report

Still, "Talk about pressure" ran a headline in today's Daily Mail. 

The two pandas, which arrived in Scotland from China in December 2011, will be allowed to (hopefully) enjoy one another's company three times today and three times on Wednesday, according to the BBC

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Britain's Telegraph claimed "omens are good," observing that Yang Guang rubbed his head "all over her tree" when keepers switched animal pens yesterday. OK, they hadn't met yet, he couldn't possibly have a crush, but let's appreciate the fact that they "did not fight during their first meeting."

Yang Guang has also been eating double bamboo portions for the past two weeks, while Tian Tian has reportedly been eating less -- both positive signs, according to Britain's Telegraph.

Panda pregnancies last anywhere from 85-100 days, said the BBC. Both pandas have reportedly had cubs before. 

Edinburgh Zoo officials earlier said they may stream any birth live on the internet, said the Belfast Telegraph

The zoo is paying China 600,000 pounds a year for ten years for the pandas, according to the Telegraph.

Not to add to the pressure, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, but your cubs would presumably be less costly. 

Watch Yang Guang get used to his new home here: