British zoo welcomes giant pandas from China

December 2, 2011 by Alice Ritchie
Two giant pandas are set to arrive at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland on Sunday
A panda eats bamboo g in Chengdu, the capital of China's southwestern province of Sichuan in November 2011. Two giant pandas are set to arrive at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland on Sunday on a eagerly anticipated ten-year loan from China, agreed after years of high-level political and diplomatic negotiations.

Two giant pandas are set to arrive at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland on Sunday on a eagerly anticipated ten-year loan from China, agreed after years of high-level political and diplomatic negotiations.

Yang Guang (Sunshine) and Tian Tian (Sweetie) are a breeding pair and the is hoping Tian Tian will give birth to cubs during her stay.

The , which were both born in 2003 and have been living in Sichuan Province, will fly to Edinburgh on a Boeing 777 freighter courtesy of FedEx.

They will spend a couple of weeks settling in before being put on public display, and the zoo has already reported a huge spike in ticket sales.

Edinburgh Zoo is paying about $1 million (750,000 euros) a year to the Chinese authorities for the pandas, the first in Britain for 17 years.

It has built two seperate enclosures for the visitors, which are quite solitary, although they will be linked by a passageway dubbed the 'tunnel of love' in anticipation of their hoped-for mating.

Each area contains an indoor section and a large outdoor enclosure, comprising lots of plants, trees, a pond and somewhere for them to shelter from the sun, a spokeswoman for the zoo said.

The pandas are expected to eat 20 three-metre long bamboo stems a day between them, at a cost of up to £70,000 a year, choosing from 25 different varieties, most of them imported from the Netherlands.

As of December 16, visitors to the zoo will be able to look in on the outdoor enclosure, while "panda-cams" placed at strategic locations will allow Internet users to watch the movements of Yang Guang during daylight hours.

"Everybody is very excited about their arrival," the zoo spokeswoman said.

The agreement to loan the pandas was announced in January following five years of negotiations, and experts from the China Wildlife Conservation Association gave the final go-ahead after a visit to Scotland in October.

Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming said the loan represented an important step in researching the animals, as well as an important gesture of friendship.

"Tian Tian and Yang Guang’s arrival in the UK is part of a 10-year joint research programme to find out how human-bred pandas can survive in the wild," he said ahead of their arrival.

"But this is about much more than conservation. It is also about science, culture, education and above all friendship and partnership. Through these themes we expect pandas to bring China and Britain even closer together."

He added: "This is an excellent window into grasping China’s commitment to peaceful development, desire for cooperation and quest for harmony with the world."

However, animal welfare groups have condemned the agreement.

"Wild animals suffer tremendously both physically and mentally from the frustration of life in captivity and often display neurotic behaviour such as incessant pacing, swaying, and bar-biting," said campaign group PETA.

"If the zoo were serious about helping pandas, they would be asking the public to donate to schemes that protect pandas in their native habitats."

Explore further: Pandas mate with help at the National Zoo

Related Stories

Pandas mate with help at the National Zoo

March 24, 2008

U.S. veterinarians have artificially inseminated Mei Xiang, a female giant panda at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, after natural mating was unsuccessful.

Giant panda pair headed for Tokyo zoo

July 27, 2010

A pair of Chinese giant pandas are soon headed for Tokyo's Ueno Zoo, where the fluffy bamboo eaters are set to delight the crowds from early next year.

Chinese panda loan to France kept top secret

November 30, 2011

As world leaders held frenzied talks to try to save the crisis-hit eurozone in the south of France earlier this month, the fate of two giant pandas destined for a French zoo hung in the balance.

Second panda born in Vienna zoo

August 24, 2010

Another panda has been born in Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo, the second in Europe to be conceived naturally in captivity, the zoo said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Loose skin and 'slack volume' protect Hagfish from shark bites

December 14, 2017

Chapman University has published new research showing how hagfishes survive an initial attack from predators before they release large volumes of slime to defend themselves. Because the slime is released after they are attacked, ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Dec 02, 2011
I agree with the reality of the pandas requiring their native habitat in China. A large land animal that has been raised in the wild might languish in a zoo setting, no matter how well the pandas are treated and nourished. Plus there is also the danger of visitors to the zoo who may deliberately try to hurt the pandas in some way. The pandas and their environment will have to be watched very carefully during the 10 year visit, because it could cause an international incident between Great Britain and Red China if the pandas are harmed in any way. The Chinese people love their pandas, almost a national symbol. I have never heard of a human being killed and eaten by a panda, as with grizzlies and polar bears. . . .although their heavy weight could do much damage, possibly.
0.7 / 5 (47) Dec 02, 2011
It's not semitransparent? I'm not interested.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.