Skip to main content

Giant panda Tian Tian likely miscarried, Edinburgh Zoo says

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Tue October 15, 2013
A panda feeds on bamboo during the breading season in February 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
A panda feeds on bamboo during the breading season in February 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Edinburgh Zoo's Tian Tian is the only female giant panda in Britain
  • Experts believe she conceived and carried a fetus to late term before losing it
  • Giant pandas in Washington and Atlanta had cubs this summer

(CNN) -- It's a sad day for Britain's panda lovers. After weeks of waiting, experts announced Tuesday that they no longer believe Edinburgh Zoo's female giant panda, Tian Tian, is pregnant.

Hopes had been high that Tian Tian, who has been on loan to the zoo for less than two years, might produce a panda cub to wow the crowds and help boost panda numbers.

But experts at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland now think Britain's only female giant panda conceived and carried a fetus to late term but then lost it.

Chris West, chief executive officer for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said officials were saddened by the turn of events.

Twin baby pandas now fuzzy and cute
See baby pandas in crib
See baby pandas in crib

"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," he said in a statement.

Tian Tian has returned to normal eating and behavior patterns, he said. The creature's enclosure, which was closed to visitors to give privacy during the pregnancy, will remain shut to the end of the week.

"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," West said.

The zoo's scientists will review the data gathered, he said, but added that he is "totally confident that we did everything it was possible to do." The cub was conceived by artificial insemination.

Panda cubs in Atlanta, Washington

Although the bad news for Tian Tian is a blow for conservationists and panda fans, it's been a good summer for the black-and-white stars at zoos across the pond.

In August, a female giant panda cub was born to mother panda Mei Xiang at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, conceived through artificial insemination.

Panda twins born at Zoo Atlanta

That birth came only a month after twin cubs were born at Zoo Atlanta -- the first set of panda twins born in the United States in 26 years.

The twins were the first for Lun Lun, who has two other offspring at that zoo, and were the product of artificial insemination as well. Their father is Yang Yang, also a resident at Atlanta's zoo.

The cubs have still to be named, following Chinese tradition.

CNN's Susannah Palk contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:06 PM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
ISIS has published a video titled "A second message to America," showing the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff.
updated 9:35 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Three Americans detained in North Korea spoke out about their conditions and pleaded for U.S. help in interviews with CNN.
Hundreds of jihadis in Syria are from abroad -- which countries have the biggest problem?
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
CNN attends a funeral where mourners keep their distance.
updated 5:13 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Libyan militia members have apparently turned the abandoned U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, into a water park.
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
A few miles south of the town of Starobeshevo in eastern Ukraine, a group of men in uniform is slumped under a tree.
updated 9:25 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Beijing says only candidates approved by a nominating committee can run for Hong Kong's chief executive, prompting criticism.
updated 4:23 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
He should be toddling around a playground. Instead, his tiny hands grip an AK-47.
updated 8:23 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
In a major breach of privacy, a hacker leaked a series of pictures allegedly showing Jennifer Lawrence and other female celebrities in the nude.
Instead of weaving garments sold in the West, children should be in school
According to the International Labour Organization, there are 168 million child laborers around the world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT