Edinburgh Zoo panda director leaves post 'to pursue new interests'

The person responsible for the UK's only giant pandas has left his post at Edinburgh Zoo.

It is understood Iain Valentine quit as director of giant pandas in February.

Mr Valentine was responsible for bringing Tian Tian (Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine) to the zoo from China in 2011.

An RZSS spokeswoman said: "RZSS can confirm that Iain Valentine has moved on from the society to pursue new interests.

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

On Monday, the RZSS revealed no efforts to breed the pair would take place in 2018.

The decision 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)

The zoo tried natural breeding in 2012 and has attempted artificial insemination each year since 2013.

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.