Giant Panda has conceived but don't get your hopes up
SHE is the only female Giant Panda in the UK, and her possible bundle of joy cannot come soon enough for her keepers at Edinburgh Zoo.
But while tests show that Tian Tian has conceived after being artificially inseminated earlier this year, she is not technically pregnant, and experts are asking people "not to get too excited at this early stage".
This initial caution is understandable as Tian Tian failed to mate with her male partner Yang Guang in 2012, before later suffering a miscarriage in October last year.
"It is still way too early to make any definitive predictions," said Iain Valentine, director of Giant Pandas for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.
"Tests do indicate that Tian Tian has conceived, but not that she is pregnant," he said, explaining that pandas practice delayed implantation, meaning that at this stage the embryo is "still in diapause or rest, so technically pregnancy has not happened yet".
There are many more significant developments still to take place, Valentine said, and timings are all approximate. Tian Tian has shown another rise in progesterone levels this month, which means that "if all still remains on track" then her pregnancy will commence within the next 20 to 30 days.
If the pregnancy is successful, panda fans can hope to see a new Giant Panda baby born around late August.
"As you can see, there is a long way to go yet, so we would urge everyone not to get too excited at this early stage," Valentine said.
"Tian Tian is in great health; very relaxed, at a great weight and eating well and keepers and scientists continue to monitor her," he added.
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