Edinburgh zoo announced that Tian Tian and Yang Guang were not put together today for any more attempts.

A “love tunnel” was opened between their enclosures after tests confirmed that Tian Tian had ovulated. The panda couple had met five times on Tuesday and several times yesterday but failed. The couple are believed to be inexperienced and they shied away from the mating act at the last moment.

Iain Valentine, director of research and conservation at the zoo, said: “Each time the pair met we saw a huge amount of eagerness and attraction between Tian Tian and Yang Guang. “There was lots of vocalisation and encouragement from our female and physical contact between the two. He mounted her several times, however full mating did not occur.” She added.

Giant pandas Tian Tian (meaning Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine) are on loan to the Edinburgh zoo from Ya’an reserve in Chengdu, China, since December 4 last year at yearly cost of £625,000 for the next 10 years. They went on show to visitors for the first time on December 16 last year.

Breeding pandas in captivity is difficult as female pandas are in oestrus for only two to four days each year. It is only during this short period of time that they can become pregnant. Further, some panda couples may not be compatible, making the chance of a successful pregnancy more difficult. However, artificial insemination has been used successfully. The Wolong Breeding Centre in China has produced 94 cubs since 2006.

Courtesy: ITN Network You Tube