Written by Stephen Messenger
Cupid must be a misguided conservationist; he doesn’t like shooting pandas.
In recent days, keepers at the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland had been delighted to find that the two Giant Pandas in their care seemed to have a spark, igniting hopes that the endangered species pair would set about in the business of making a baby panda. But these things, shall we say, are complicated.
Suffice it to say, pandas are not the most amorous of creatures. Female pandas, in this case an 8-year-old named Tian Tian, have a window of fertility that lasts a mere 36 hours — meaning male pandas like Yang Guang, her intended, must be master romancers if they have any intention of saving their species by reproducing.
Talk about pressure.
Like a gaggle of gawking friends to a potential romantic pair in junior high school, zookeepers did their best to set the mood for Tian Tian and Yang Guang — and perhaps just as awkwardly. Although they’re usually kept apart, for the breeding season the zoo installed a special ‘love tunnel’ for the pandas (and yes, that’s what they called it) to connect their enclosures.
Unfortunately, however, after some clumsy panda flirtation the relatively inexperienced pandas parted ways the same.
Here’s zoo official Iain Valentine describing the whole sloppy affair:
“There was lots of vocalization and encouragement from our female and physical contact between the two. He mounted her several times, however full mating did not occur,” he tells the Telegraph.
Despite the failed attempt at what would likely have been an adorable copulation, and the shutting of ‘love tunnels’ for the season, Edinburgh zookeepers remain hopefull that next year things could move beyond 3rd base.
“We are hugely encouraged by how much the natural sparks flew between the two animals, as like humans, not all male and female pandas are attracted to each other. Both were keen to mate but their inexperience showed,” says Valentine.
I’m no expert when it comes to endangered species dating tips, but perhaps romance would be more forthcoming for pandas if they took the pursuit of love more seriously:
This post was originally published by TreeHugger.
AP Photo of Tian Tian by Scott Heppell, File