Edinburgh zoo visitors await possible birth of giant panda cub with immense zeal

Updated 2017-09-10 09:30:36 Xinhua

Even a rainy chilly day in Edinburgh has failed to dampen the enthusiasm of visitors to the zoo. There is often only one reason for the visit: to see the giant pandas.

Now there is one more reason for the trip: Tian Tian, which means Sweetie in Chinese, is confirmed to be pregnant and a cub could be born reportedly as early as in September.

Visitors, old and young, are lining up to take pictures with the huge posters of giant pandas at the zoo entrance with a sculpture of Tian Tian's food prints nearby. Mary Bill, from Newcastle, told Xinhua that she came all the way with her husband to see Tian Tian and Yang Guang, meaning Sunshine in Chinese, the only giant panda pair in Britain.

"It's my first time to see giant pandas, I am so excited," said Bill, "I am grateful to China to allow pandas to live here. It's much cheaper for me than to buy a ticket and fly to China to see them. "

Local resident Judy Anderson is a more frequent visitor. Rolling a stroller with her toddler son in it, Anderson said her son was thrilled each time she brought him here to see the giant pandas.

"It's very exciting that Tian Tian is pregnant and we will definitely come back again to see the cub after its born," said Anderson.

Following their arrival in 2011 on a ten-year loan, Tian Tian and Yang Guang have become a sensation in Edinburgh zoo, helping a 200 percent increase in ticket sales and making the zoo one of Scotland's most popular attractions.

Under the terms of the contract agreed between Edinburgh zoo officials and China, any cub born through the breeding programme will be returned within two years.

Regarding Tian Tian's condition, zoo officials are more cautious. Spokeswoman Kayleigh Ross said giant panda's breeding process is a "very complicated one" and there was no guarantee the pregnancy would lead to a successful live birth. Panda fetus is very fragile and on previous occasions, it is thought Tian Tian either absorbed a foetus or lost others.

"Tian Tian is being closely monitored and we will be the first to share any news as soon as we can," said the spokeswoman.

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