The story appears on

Page B11

December 2, 2011

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » Animal Planet

Pandas set to arrive in Edinburgh

FOLLOWING months of global anticipation and excitement, the arrival date for Scotland's first pair of breeding giant pandas has been confirmed as Sunday.

Tian Tian and Yang Guang are set to arrive in Edinburgh Zoo from the Giant Panda Conservation and Research Center in Sichuan Province, China. The announcement follows a successful visit to Scotland's capital in October by the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA), an organization dedicated to giant panda conservation since 1983, which has now given the final go-ahead for the pandas' 10-year residence in Scotland.

The CWCA confirmed the date following a rigorous assessment of the giant pandas' enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo, together with plans for the animals' care during the 10 years of the project. FedEx Express has donated its services for the transportation of the giant pandas.

The UK public will have to wait a little longer, however, to catch the first glimpse of the new arrivals. Following a two week "settling-in" period in their new enclosure, the giant pandas will be available for public viewing. Tickets will need to be pre-booked and all details of public viewing arrangements will be published on Edinburgh Zoo's website. There will be no extra charge for viewing the pandas.

Born in 2003, Tian Tian (meaning "sweetie") and Yang Guang ("sunshine") will be under custodianship of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), owners of Edinburgh Zoo and a world leader in animal conservation, research and education.

Epic journey

The arrival of the pandas represents the culmination of five years of political and diplomatic negotiation at the highest level, spearheaded by the RZSS. Hugh Roberts, chief executive of Edinburgh Zoo, said: "We have been looking forward to this moment for five years now, since we first embarked on this epic journey to bring the giant pandas to Scotland.

"The arrival of Tian Tian and Yang Guang is an historic occasion for the zoo, for Scotland, and for the UK as a whole. Our dedicated team at the zoo has worked tirelessly to create a world-class enclosure to house our newest additions which will offer visitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view these extraordinary animals.

"The giant pandas will be on loan to us for an initial period of 10 years, in which time we are hopeful that the female, Tian Tian, will give birth to cubs - the first to be born in Scotland."

Dr Chunlin Zang, secretary general of the CWCA added: "We are happy to finally confirm the arrival date for the giant pandas to arrive at Edinburgh Zoo. From the very start, the CWCA has been working in partnership with the RZSS. With this historic arrival of Tian Tian and Yang Guang, our collaboration has entered a new stage. Together, we are looking forward to playing an important role in future giant panda research and conservation."

With the arrival of the pandas to Edinburgh, the RZSS has cemented its role in the future research and conservation of one of the world's most endangered species.

Roberts added: "This is the beginning of a long-term partnership which will drive a program of international research which will have massive benefits for the zoo, Scotland and the UK - both in supporting giant panda conservation and in enhancing our programs in education, science and conservation.

"It is also a highly visible statement of the growing momentum to improve international relations between the UK and China, and a sign that we can further cooperate closely on a broad range of environmental and cultural issues, as well as commerce."

The arrival of the giant pandas to Edinburgh Zoo has been widely greeted as a symbol of the closer partnership between China and the UK.

Liu Xiaoming, Ambassador of China to the UK said: "Tian Tian and Yang Guang's arrival in the UK is part of a 10-year joint research program to find out how human-bred pandas can survive in the wild. At its core, the project represents the growing scientific ties between China and Britain.

"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. Knowing pandas also means understanding more about their home country of China.

"This opens the way for people across Britain to explore Chinese traditions, people, its society and economy. More importantly, this is an excellent window into grasping China's commitment to peaceful development, desire for cooperation and quest for harmony with the world," Liu added.

FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp, is donating its logistical services to transport the giant pandas from China to Scotland. The pandas will travel onboard a FedEx Express Boeing 777 freighter in a customized Panda livery - known as the "FedEx Panda Express."

The giant panda project will be funded entirely from charitable donations from the RZSS and through sponsorship.

Lots and lots of bamboo

German grower Reiner Winkendick will provide 85 percent of the giant pandas bamboo for the initial phase of the 10-year period they will reside at Edinburgh Zoo. The bamboo will be grown at plantations at a nursery on the outskirts of Amsterdam. The other 15 percent will be grown at special sites around the zoo. Between them, Tian Tian and Yang Guang are expected to chomp their way through nearly 18,000 kilograms of bamboo every year, or 20 three-meter stems per day.

Edinburgh Zoo and the RZSS

RZSS is one of Europe's foremost conservation organizations and is home to considerable expertise which will be of benefit to the China Wildlife Conservation Association. It is this expertise and the research facilities available within Edinburgh that has helped secure this prestigious gift for the city. Animal nutrition, genetics, embryology, immunology and veterinary medicine are vital areas of research for giant pandas and Scotland has expertise in these areas. Progress in these could lead to the re-introduction of pandas into the wild in the next 10 years. This project will generate income to support RZSS's wider aims. A panda countdown clock is live on the Edinburgh Zoo website at where you can also find cute Panda-themed products.

About Tian Tian and Yang Guang

The giant pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang are a potential breeding pair, both born in 2003. They will be under the custodianship of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. Tian Tian is a female and is currently located at Bifengxia panda breeding center outside Ya'an, near the city of Chengdu in Sichuan Province. The male panda, Yang Guang, is in the same location. The two pandas will feel very much at home in Edinburgh. Unlike other zoos around the world where the environment for the giant pandas needs to be created, the climate in Edinburgh is similar to that in their native habitat in Sichuan Province. Bamboo will grow well there and the temperature and conditions will suit them well.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend