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.

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§ 7 Responses to Chief Executive’s blog

  • As an Edinburgh parent (and member) with two small children who are very excited about the forthcoming Pandas it is so disappointing that there is so little information about the Pandas on the zoo site.

    Clearly there are delays, probably political hurdles to overcome but why not share the problems? It would be great to find out why you can’t give a date.

    In the absence of definitive dates how about a webcam or diary of Yang Guang and Tian Tian so we know them when they do arrive?

  • Phill Jones says:

    when do you think the Panda’s will be arriving in Edinburgh?

  • R June Langa says:

    Is there any chance that members will be able to visit the pandas before it opens to the general public. Having spoken to quite a few members, they are all of the opinion that this would be a boost for the members who are just recovering from the last few traumatic months of upheaval.

  • Gavin Flynn says:

    when do you think the Panda’s will be arriving in Edinburgh?

  • rzss says:

    Hi there. Thanks for reading the RZSS blog. We are hopeful the pandas will be with us by the end of this year. For updates please keep an eye on the Edinburgh Zoo Facebook page and our dedicated panda website http://www.rzsspanda.org.uk

  • rzss says:

    Hi there. Thanks for reading the RZSS blog. We know there is a lot of anticipation for the pandas and we are hopeful they will be with us before the end of the year. Our head of Giant Pandas Alison is currently in China getting to know Tian Tian and Yang Guang. She’s been sending back updates so keep an eye on our Facebook page for those. We also have plans for a panda cam in the works which we hope will be as popular as our current penguin cam. Please visit our Facebook page and dedicated panda website for all the latest news and updates./

  • rzss says:

    Hi there, We know our members will be eager to see our Giant Pandas and we are currently making arrangements for an exclusive members event. Please continue to check the Edinburgh Zoo website for updates on these plans and all our latest giant panda news. Thank you for your support.

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