With so few pandas left, miscarriages are not a laughing matter.
Scotland’s Edinburgh Police found this out the hard way Tuesday after it tweeted a joke following news that one of the zoo’s giant panda had lost its child.
The tweet was deleted minutes after it was sent, but not fast enough to stop about 40 people from retweeting it (a handful of those messages can still be searched).
A Scottish politician named John Lamont said the tweet was “in poor taste.”
“Our tweet was not intended to cause any offence, and we apologise to anyone who thought the content to be inappropriate,” a Scottish police spokesman told Deadline News. “We share everyone’s disappointment that Tian Tian is no longer expecting a cub.”
Tian Tian the giant panda has been on loan (for $1 million a year) to the Edinburgh Zoo since 2011. She comes from the Bifengxia Breeding Centre in China.
It’s unclear when exactly Tian Tian became pregnant. Over the past few weeks, she had been showing signs of late term pregnancy, such as passing “a mucus plug around mid-September and began producing colostrum,” said Chris West, CEO for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, in a statement.
That all changed Tuesday.
“We are all saddened by this turn of events after so many weeks of waiting,” West added. “Timings are difficult to pinpoint at this moment, but we had a meeting this morning where Tian Tian’s behaviour and hormone results were reviewed and have come to the conclusion that it is very likely she has lost the pregnancy.”
Giant pandas are an endangered species. There are an estimated 1,600 remaining in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF).