I was amazed yesterday to hear that after five years of negotiation two Giant Pandas will be loaned to Edinburgh Zoo for a period of 10 years. The pandas are a breeding pair named Yangguang and Tian Tian (pictured). Both pandas currently reside at Wolong Panda Breeding Centre in China’s Sichuan Province which altogether houses 250 breeding giant pandas. Yangguang is a male and Tian Tian is a female and they are both 7 years old.
Whilst living in Edinburgh Zoo they will be housed in separate enclosures and brought together only for mating season which is annual and will last only between two days and a week, between March and May. Any offspring Yangguang and Tian Tian do produce will return to China soon after birth.
Initially I was thrilled to hear that I may finally get the chance to see not one but TWO Giant Panda's in the flesh but I do have a few reservations and I am waiting to see how things develop, I would hate to think this is all about business, politics and Edinburgh Zoo's visitor figures instead of conservation.
I also can't help but think of Mercedes the Polar Bear who lived in Edinburgh Zoo for 25 years before being rehomed in the Highland Wildlife Park, Kingussie. When we went to visit her she seemed very depressed and just paced up and down in her enclosure, I really hope Yangguang and Tian Tian are very happy in their new home and aren't too unsettled by their long journey from China to Scotland.