Love is in the air for picky pandas at Edinburgh Zoo

Rebecca Lewis

Yang Guang, the male panda, looks at the camera at the Edinburgh zoo (Rex)

It was the 'will they or won't they' animal soap opera that had everyone talking last year - and it's set to run all over again. Yes, breeding season is approaching for Edinburgh zoo's giant pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guan.

Scotland's famous couple have started to display courtship behaviour and it could be a matter of weeks before they mate.

Yuan Guang has shown his interest by doing handstands against walls, trees and rocks to leave his scent at such a height that it can catch the wind - and hopefully her attention.

Meanwhile Tian Tian has started to call out to the male panda - a common beahviour during breeding season.

The celebrity couple are the first pandas on British soil for 17 years and arrived from China in December 2011 to a warm welcome in Edinburgh. They have been closely watched ever since.

Last year, much to the zoo's disappointment, the couple were unable to mate. Female pandas are in season for less than 48 hours every year, making the window of opportunity for Yang Guang very small indeed.

Iain Valentine of the Royal Zoological Society said: "In reality we could be as little as four weeks away, although equally the big day could still be as far off as eight weeks. We are now definitely on the right path."

Edinburgh Zoo keepers will be hoping Yuan Guang and Tian Tian will break the curse set by Chi Chi and An-An, a famous panda couple from the 1960s.

Video footage below shows Russian male panda An-An arrive in London to great fanfare, but female panda Chi Chi - the model for the World Wildlife Fun logo - rebuffed his advances and the pair failed to mate.

Subsequent pandas in Britain have also been unsuccessful. Tian Tian and Yuan Guang would be the first mating pair in decades.

There are only 1,600 giant pandas left in the wild.

1968: Russian panda An-An arrives in LondonWatch footage of of An-An the Russian panda arriving in Britain to meets his reluctant mate Chi-Chi, London Zoo's very own panda.