Concerned staff at Berlin Zoo think they have found a way to cure depression in one of its unhappy panda residents - more sex.

Meng Meng, a Chinese giant panda, has become a firm favourite with visitors since her arrival from east Asia earlier this year.

However, zookeepers say the four-year-old panda is currently suffering from depression - and as a result has developed the unusual habit of walking backwards.

Speaking to Berliner Zeitung, Berlin Zoo director Andreas Knieriem says the reverse walk is a "protest against things she dislikes, be it the food or the carers".

Her new suitor is a male panda named Jiao Qing who also arrived at the zoo this year. Zookeepers are hopeful that the companionship of Jiao Qing, who is three years older, will help heal Meng Meng's depression.

Pandas are typically kept apart whilst in captivity so her handlers hope to introduce the two during the next mating season, which runs from February to May.

"By then, Meng Meng will have reached sexual maturity and could focus all her energy on seducing her partner," Knieriem added.

The two animals were introduced to Germany as part of Berlin Zoo's new £7.6m Chinese wildlife compound, opened by Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Xi Jinping earlier this year.

Pandas are famously reluctant to mate in captivity. Tian Tian, Britain's only female giant panda, has been subject to much public interest since her arrival at Edinburgh Zoo in 2011. The zoo's attempted panda breeding programme has not been a success despite a £640,000 annual bill.

Reports in August suggested that Tian Tian was in advanced stages of pregnancy but staff later conceded that her hormone levels had returned to normal ruling out a pregnancy.