Chief Executive’s blog
September 26, 2011 § 7 Comments
It’s great to be back from China and able to blog about my travels to the Bifengxia Panda Base to meet Yang Guang and Tian Tian.
Beijing was very misty when Iain Valentine and I arrived, and during our time in China it stayed that way for most of our trip.
I’ve got to say that I wasn’t fully prepared for just how mesmerising pandas are. I was very taken with them within about 60 seconds of our meeting. I was honoured to see the male Yang Guang (which means sunlight), being fed a panda cake, which he definitely enjoyed. Then to see him chomping away on a carrot just like a person would, working his way down from the top to the stalk. The female, Tian Tian (which means sweetie), was up a tree standing in a classic panda pose getting a good aerial view of the sanctuary. It’s something she’ll be able to do in her enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo, so I’m hoping she’ll enjoy the Edinburgh skyline.
Then it was off to meet some rather boisterous and gregarious young pandas. They were all very active and playful. I was asked if I’d like to meet one close up, and before I knew it I was cuddling a 14 month old panda. I’ve got to say it’s an experience I’ll never forget.
During my visit I also had the opportunity to take tea with the British Ambassador in Beijing and to talk about the panda’s arrival in more detail.
Closer to home there’s also been lots of things happening. The keepers and I were delighted to see the press interest in Ricky the chimpanzee’s 50th birthday. He has a special place in their hearts, so we were pleased to see everyone else have a chance to share in the news.
Another animal that generates a lot of affection is Walker the 58 stone polar bear up at the Highland Wildlife Park. Since extensive press coverage appeared of Walker’s love of hard hats, as they make a great enrichment for this playful youngster, his admirers have been showing their affection by donating them to him. As they’re ruined after two days, we’re happy to receive donations to keep up the supply – some have come from people working in construction, but others are coming from very generous people who have ordered the hats online specially.
Other news from the RZSS this week is the announcement that the Scottish Beaver Trial at Knapdale forest in Argyll has welcomed the birth of new beaver kits for the second year in a row. Although one kit has died due to natural predation, a second kit born on Loch Linne this summer looks to be thriving and has been spotted quite healthy, swimming and feeding. A great end to a very successful summer at the Trial.