Chief Executives Blog

December 8, 2011 § Leave a comment


Thursday 8 December 2011

Well they’re here!  Our two giant pandas are safely settling into their new enclosures at Edinburgh Zoo and we’re absolutely delighted with them.

The moment of their arrival was so very poignant, and a moment that I and many others will never forget.  I was honoured to represent the Society as one of their greatest achievements came to fruition.

On Sunday 4th December at around 1pm, Tian Tian and Yang Guang arrived on Scottish soil at Edinburgh Airport.  The pair had touched down safely courtesy of the FedEx Panda Express – a specially chartered Boeing 777F flight from Chengdu in China.

The runway tarmac was packed with dignitaries and ministers, as well as the world’s press.  I was even joined by six year old Maisie Dalton, who won a competition to represent the children of Scotland.  Maisie clutched a panda cuddly toy and proudly wore a kilt specially made from panda tartan – and I’m sure you’ll all agree she did a fantastic job of representing children everywhere.

Thousands of people cheered and waved from the side of the road as our two new arrivals were escorted by police on their short journey from the airport to Edinburgh Zoo.  Media were also at Edinburgh Zoo in abundance, you’ve probably seen from all the press coverage in the last few days!  It was all extremely moving.

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I’m glad to report that our two giant pandas were safely delivered to their new custom built enclosures – their home for the next 10 years – and are settling in wonderfully well.  In fact, on arrival Yang Guang made himself right at home and immediately tucked into great piles of bamboo!

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I’ve been to see both pandas a couple of times now, and am looking forward to when our members and the public are able to get their first glimpse at Edinburgh Zoo.  Viewings commence for members from the 13th and visitors generally from the 16th, but please be sure to go online in advance and book your panda viewing time slots at no extra charge.

Here at Edinburgh Zoo we are now embarking on a 10 year project to allow us to better understand these amazing bears.  At the very heart of this very special partnership are the Society’s three objectives of conservation, education and research.  We will continue to work with the China Wildlife Conservation Association and the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda in Sichuan Province.  The next steps are going to be tremendous.

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