NEWS
28/01/2012 12:25 GMT | Updated 29/03/2012 06:12 BST

Giant Pandas At Edinburgh Zoo, Tian Tian And Yang Guang, Taken Off Display To Recover From Colic

Giant pandas Sunshine and Sweetie, who have become the stars of Edinburgh Zoo, have been taken out of the spotlight as they recover from illness.

The male, Yang Guang, was removed from public viewing earlier this month as he was suffering from colic, and Tian Tian, the female panda, was treated by vets this morning for the same problem.

A spokesperson for the zoo said: "Tian Tian has been under the weather this morning. One of our vets has been to visit her and suspects she has a bit of colic, similar to Yang Guang but much milder.

"She is being allowed time to relax privately away from public view today and probably tomorrow also.

"Yang Guang is expected to go back on public view on Monday, so unfortunately there is no panda viewing today."

Yang Guang was said to be "brighter and more active" after he passed a plug of so-called panda slime earlier this month.

The mucus jelly-like pellet is produced in the bear's large intestine to help ease the irritation of colic.

Zoo officials said the panda had already returned to eating large quantities of bamboo.

The male panda started feeling under the weather less than a month after the pair went on display at their new home at Edinburgh Zoo.

Zoo bosses said the bears' illness was not serious but can cause discomfort.

Colic is a common condition that, in humans, affects around one in five babies of both sexes. Its cause is unknown.

The most common symptom of colic is excessive crying in a baby, which otherwise appears to be healthy and well fed.

The zoo said all visitors with tickets for the panda enclosure have been refunded.

The spokeswoman said: "We understand some visitors will be disappointed, however the welfare of our giant pandas has to be a priority.

"All visitors with panda tickets today have been fully refunded, welcomed into the zoo for free and invited to rebook for a suitable future date."

Yang Guang, whose name means Sunshine, and Tian Tian, or Sweetie, arrived in Edinburgh from the Ya'an reserve in Chengdu, China, on December 4.

They went on show to zoo visitors for the first time on December 16 after acclimatising to their new surroundings away from the public glare.

The landmark moment for the zoo brought with it a 200% increase on the usual number of visitors through the gates on a typical December day.

Edinburgh Zoo will be the animals' home for the next 10 years and it is hoped that the breeding pair, the first pandas in the UK for 17 years, will produce cubs during their stay.

The Scottish zoo is now one of only 13 in the world with pandas.