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Hopes rise of Tian Tian giving birth to panda by end of the month

GIANT panda Tian Tian is believed to be pregnant and may give birth by the end of the month.

Keepers at Edinburgh Zoo have been monitoring Tian Tian since she was ­artificially inseminated on April 13.

Iain Valentine, director of pandas at the zoo, said: "The latest scientific data suggests Tian Tian the giant panda is now pregnant and that implantation has taken place; therefore, she may give birth at the end of the month.

"This is all very new and complex science and we still have a bit of time to go yet, as like last year, the late loss of a cub remains entirely possible."

Tian Tian (Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine) are the first giant pandas to live in the UK for 17 years. The animals, now both aged 10, arrived on loan from China in December 2011 and will remain at Edinburgh Zoo for a decade.

Tian Tian was successfully inseminated last year but lost her cub at late term.

Experts have been analysing the animal's hormone and protein levels but said it will not be known for certain if she is pregnant until she gives birth. Two Chinese experts will fly to Edinburgh later this month.

Visitors flocked to the giant panda enclosure at the zoo yesterday despite Tian Tian being off show during her pregnancy. Families queued in the hope of seeing her partner Yang Guang, but there was no sign of him leaving his private shelter in the wind and drizzle.

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