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After the excitement of the royal birth we may have another keenly hoped for birth to look forward to. Edinburgh Zoo has released the news that their giant panda Tian Tian may be pregnant. What tests the Zoo has been able to make are positive although the definitive test, being an ultrasound scan, has not been possible due to a lack of co-operation from the panda herself. As a zoo spokesman said, “we’re not going to risk the hand of our vet.”
Preparations are well under way at the Zoo with two incubators in place in case of twins and a team of staff standing by to act as round the clock carers if Tian Tian needs help. Now all the Zoo can do is wait for the birth which may take place within the month. However pandas are well known for displaying false pregnancy signs so Chris West, chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, the charity that runs Edinburgh Zoo has cautioned that “we don’t want to count our pandas until they are born.”
If a baby panda does arrive it will bring a boost in visitors to Edinburgh Zoo as panda lovers flock from across the world to see the new arrival. Sudden influxes of visitors can cause problems for visitor attractions but planning and taking time out to work with helpers to manage increased visitor numbers can result in a positive experience for visitors, employees and volunteers alike. And with careful management sudden influxes can be translated into long term benefits.
In fact when it comes to pandas Scotland may be doubly blessed. With a red panda cub having been born in the Highland Wildlife Park in June, if Tian Tian does give birth Scotland could find itself on the panda visitor trail for years to come.