Wildlife lovers in The UK were delighted this week to welcome two new furry friends onto Blighty shores – and into Edinburgh’s Zoo; as Tian Tian and Yang Guang became the first Giant Pandas to live here for over 17 years.
The 9 hour “FedEx Panda Express” journey from China was a 777 aircraft carrying two perspex containers with a couple of very special passengers, both of whom were both spoilt to a travel menu most people would be delighted with – including mineral water, bamboo sticks, specially made Panda cake and other organic vegetables!
Tian Tian (meaning Sweetie) and Yang Guang (meaning Sunshine) arrived in Scotland’s Capital City to some chilly conditions, with a drop in temperature from the 10 degrees they’d been used to at Chengdu Airport, dipping down to a brisk 3 degrees in their new home. BBC Correspondent Colin Blane claims this won’t be a problem however, as both of the giant creatures are “very fond of a roll around in the snow” also stating “the conditions should be to their liking”.
If expert opinions are to be believed, they will soon come to love their new surroundings. The relaxed character and nature of the Pandas are anything but aggressive, and where Tian Tian is a little shy and coy, Yang Guang is more confident and outgoing – yet neither have ever shown any inkling of of aggression or disdain.
“They spend their time eating and sleeping, they really are very easy going.”
As well as providing a fantastic tourist attraction (which has drawn criticism from some corners), there is great anticipation and hope that the pair will mate when Tian Tian comes into season in March. Both have already produced off spring, but not together…yet.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I know we’re all keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the arrival of a little Mac panda sometime before too long.”
Interestingly, and perhaps excitingly for those broody bear lovers; Chinese Charge d’Affaires Qin Gang added:
“The father of Yang Guang keeps the world record of fathering 107 Panda cubs, and the mother of Tian Tian, known as Panda Mum, has also given birth to many baby Pandas… I hope that this pair will carry the gene of their parents!”
Their new £250,000 home at the Zoo includes two separate enclosures – keeping the pair and apart allowing them to settle in before going on display in around two weeks. The eight year old Panda pair are expected to live here for at least ten years, drawing criticism in the form of “publicity stunt” and “money-making” jibes – however, any contribution to maintaining the species and encouraging them to breed is well received here!
If you’d like to see the Pandas or any other wildlife experiences, check Experience Days for a really wild day out to get up close and personal nature’s finest creatures!