Edinburgh Zoo panda Tian Tian suffers late-term miscarriage

The panda had been showing signs of pregnancy after being artificially inseminated in April

By Lindsay Abrams

Published October 15, 2013 12:55PM (EDT)

Edinburgh Zoo officials were pretty sure that Tian Tian, their giant female panda, was pregnant. But now, reports the BBC, she's "returned to the eating and behavioral patterns of a non-pregnant panda," meaning she probably isn't:

Chris West, chief executive officer for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said: "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.

"We are conducting a detailed review of the scientific data collected, but I am totally confident that we did everything it was possible to do."

As it always goes with panda pregnancies, "everything possible" to a large extent just meant crossing their fingers and hoping for the best. "Predicting pregnancy in giant pandas isn't straight forward and we're all rapidly learning that Tian Tian is a panda whose behaviour and physiology appears to be more complicated than most," a spokeswoman for the zoo said in September.

The zoo had been cheering on Tian Tian since she was artificially inseminated in April. A month back, they were reporting that she appeared to be pregnant, and were anticipating a birth within the next couple of weeks. Despite the late-term loss, keepers remain optimistic that Tian Tian will eventually give birth -- but for now, they're closing her exhibit "to give her keepers a chance to recuperate."


Lindsay Abrams

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