Edinburgh Zoo panda director quits after breeding programme suspended

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The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland says no efforts to breed the pair will take place this year.

Edinburgh Zoo’s head of giant pandas has quit after a decision to suspend the bears’ breeding programme.

It was announced that Iain Valentine had left his post on Tuesday to “pursue new interests”.

On Monday, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) revealed no efforts to breed the pair would take place in 2018.

Mr Valentine, who was the director of giant pandas, was responsible for bringing Tian Tian (Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine) to the zoo from China in 2011.

“Iain played a key role in the society’s contribution to the worldwide panda conservation programme over many years, including research and science.”

The decision not to breed the pair was made to allow researchers to focus on the animals’ mating process to improve the chances of future efforts.

Tian Tian has had cubs in China, but not in the UK.


Yang Guang rests in his enclosure (David Cheskin/PA)
Yang Guang rests in his enclosure (David Cheskin/PA)

It was announced in September that the latest efforts to produce a cub had failed.

The black and white bears arrived on loan from China in December 2011 and are due to remain at Edinburgh Zoo for a decade.

In 2008 the zoo first announced it was in negotiations to bring a pair of giant pandas to Scotland.

The two were brought to the UK under a historic agreement between the UK and Chinese governments.

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