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Yang Guang And Tian Tian, Edinburgh Zoo's Pandas, To Be Set Up On Mating Date (PHOTOS)

Posted: 04/ 4/2012 6:55 am Updated: 04/ 4/2012 12:17 pm

LONDON (AP) — Zoo officials have created a private love nest for Britain's only pair of giant pandas in hope the fertility-challenged animals will mate — and Wednesday may be their last chance for quite a while.

Keepers at Edinburgh Zoo have opened a "love tunnel" between the enclosures of male Yang Guang and female Tian Tian in a bid to encourage mating, and have turned off the "panda cam" that allows people to watch the pandas online.

It is hoped the privacy will encourage the animals.

Giant pandas have difficulty breeding, with females fertile for only two or three days a year.

Zookeepers brought the pair together Tuesday after tests showed Tian Tian had ovulated. The zoo said that despite "encouraging" signs and some wrestling, they had not mated so far.

They are due to meet again Wednesday for another opportunity.

The 8-year-old animals — whose names mean Sunshine and Sweetie — arrived from China in December.

They have been drawing a steady stream of visitors to the zoo, which has had to allocate time slots to accommodate those hoping to view the pandas.

The pair, who are on loan, were also removed from public view in January when they were treated for colic.

They are the first pandas to live in Britain in nearly two decades.

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  • Male giant Panda Yang Guang (Sunshine) relaxes in his enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo on December 12, 2011. The pair of giant pandas that arrived in Britain from China on December 4 went on show to the media on December 12 before being fully presented to the public later in the week. It is hoped that the pandas, the first to live in the UK for 17 years, will eventually breed and give birth to cubs. AFP PHOTO

  • EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 12: Yang Guang (L), the male panda, looks through the fence of his enclosure at Tian Tian as they make their first appearance in from of the media since arriving from China on December 12, 2011 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The eight-year-old pair of giant pandas arrived on a specially chartered flight from China over a week ago and are the first to live in the UK for 17 years. Edinburgh zoo are hopeful that the pandas will give birth to cubs during their 10 year stay in Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Giant Panda Yang Guang (Sunshine) enjoys his meal of bamboo shoots while Tian Tian (Sweetie) takes a nap (not in picture) prior to a ceremony to send them off at the Wolong National Natural Reserve in China's southwest Sichuan province on November 3, 2011. The two giant pandas are set to arrive at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland on a eagerly anticipated ten-year loan from China, agreed after years of high-level political and diplomatic negotiations. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 04: Chinese Panda Yang Guang arrives at Edinburgh Airport on December 4, 2011 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Tian Tian and Yang Guang, a pair of eight-year-old giant pandas arrived on a specially chartered flight and will be the first to live in the UK for 17 years. Edinburgh Zoo are hopeful that the pandas will give birth to cubs during their 10 year stay in Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Male giant Panda Yang Guang (Sunshine) walks in his enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo on December 12, 2011. The pair of giant pandas that arrived in Britain from China on December 4 went on show to the media on December 12 before being fully presented to the public later in the week. It is hoped that the pandas, the first to live in the UK for 17 years, will eventually breed and give birth to cubs. (AFP/Getty Images)

  • Male giant Panda Yang Guang (Sunshine) relaxes with some bamboo in hand in his enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo on December 12, 2011. The pair of giant pandas that arrived in Britain from China on December 4 went on show to the media on December 12 before being fully presented to the public later in the week. It is hoped that the pandas, the first to live in the UK for 17 years, will eventually breed and give birth to cubs. (AFP/Getty Images)

  • EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 12: Yang Guang (L), the male panda, looks through the fence of his enclosure at Tian Tian as they make their first appearance in from of the media since arriving from China on December 12, 2011 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The eight-year-old pair of giant pandas arrived on a specially chartered flight from China over a week ago and are the first to live in the UK for 17 years. Edinburgh zoo are hopeful that the pandas will give birth to cubs during their 10 year stay in Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Male giant Panda Yang Guang (Sunshine) walks in his enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo on December 12, 2011. The pair of giant pandas that arrived in Britain from China on December 4 went on show to the media on December 12 before being fully presented to the public later in the week. It is hoped that the pandas, the first to live in the UK for 17 years, will eventually breed and give birth to cubs. (AFP/Getty Images)

  • EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 12: Male panda Yang Guang makes his first appearance in front of the media since arriving from China on December 12, 2011 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The eight-year-old pair of giant pandas arrived on a specially chartered flight from China over a week ago and are the first to live in the UK for 17 years. Edinburgh zoo are hopeful that the pandas will give birth to cubs during their 10 year stay in Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 16: Tian Tian the female panda bear looks out from her enclosure as members of the public view her for the first time at Edinburgh Zoo on December 16, 2011 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The eight-year-old pair of giant pandas arrived on a specially chartered flight from China over a week ago and are the first to live in the UK for 17 years. Edinburgh zoo are hopeful that the pandas will give birth to cubs during their 10 year stay in Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 12: Female panda Tian Tian makes her first appearance in front of the media since arriving from China on December 12, 2011 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The eight-year-old pair of giant pandas arrived on a specially chartered flight from China over a week ago and are the first to live in the UK for 17 years. Edinburgh zoo are hopeful that the pandas will give birth to cubs during their 10 year stay in Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 12: Female panda Tian Tian makes her first appearance in front of the media since arriving from China on December 12, 2011 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The eight-year-old pair of giant pandas arrived on a specially chartered flight from China over a week ago and are the first to live in the UK for 17 years. Edinburgh zoo are hopeful that the pandas will give birth to cubs during their 10 year stay in Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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