Are the Pandas at Edinburgh Zoo gay?

Amidst much hype and press attention two Giant Pandas arrived in Edinburgh last year.

They’re on loan from China but it’s a pretty long-term loan: they’re here for ten years.  And, I have to say, there’s a full ten years planned for them.

Central to the ten year plan is the need for the pair to mate and this week’s been the week for them to perform.  You see, female Pandas only ovulate once a year and there’s only a 36 hour window for mating to occur… which all seems pretty short sighted of nature to me.

Anyway, the bears were brought together after a Panda expert deemed Tian Tian, the female Panda, was ready; and off they went… or at least that was the plan.

But there was problem after problem.

Firstly, the PandaCam had to be switched off because the pressure to perform was too much for poor Yang Guang: the red light was putting him off, as it would anyone who finds their bedroom efforts being broadcast to an expectant world.

Then Tian Tian’s tail was getting in the way.  A keeper was drafted in to help the not so amorous couple by lifting up the offending tail with a long pole.  I’m not kidding.  Here’s an extract from the BBC website:

‘Zoo staff said Tian Tian’s tail kept getting in the way. Keepers have been using a long pole to try to raise the female panda’s tail.’

Imagine going home to your wife who asks you what you did at work today, darling.  ‘Oh, I lifted a Panda’s tail with a long pole so her boyfriend could get a good run at it.’

Anyway, there was much wrestling (the Pandas, that is) but no actual mating so it’s no nooky for Yang Guang for another 12 months, poor fella.

I have to say that the thought did strike me that copulation didn’t happen for a very different reason.  The fella in question might be batting for the other side.  It’s probably something we’ll never know.

It also got me thinking about the pressure to perform in any arena.

I know it must all be terribly scientific this holding up the tail with a long pole, but I can’t help thinking that if they’d been put in a room together, maybe with some soft music, a box of chocolates and the lights switched off, nature would have found a way.

It’s much the same in businesses: constant interference in someone’s work to make sure ‘they are on the right track’ just makes them nervous and less likely to perform.

Put the right checks in place when setting someone a task, stick to them and then trust them to get on with it… that’s the way to encourage performance.

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