PANDA-MONIUM caused Edinburgh Zoo’s ticket system to collapse.
Confirmation that Tian Tian and Yang Guang – meaning Sweet and Sunshine – were due to arrive next weekend resulted in a surge of people visiting to zoo’s site to book ring-side seat for the new star attractions.
Members of the public will be able to visit the bears following a two week ‘settling-in’ period in their new enclosure, but only if they have pre-booked their place.
The zoo opened an online booking service at around 1pm today (Mon) but within half an hour officials had to inform those trying to book tickets that the system was off-line.
Posting on their Facebook page bosses said: “Due to the demand our ticketing system is currently not available. We will confirm when this is back online. We apologise for any inconvenience.”
Ten minutes later they announced “Our online Panda Ticketing is back online” but people flooded the page to complain that they were still unable to book a time to see the Chinese pair.
Others complained they were unable to book the number of tickets they wanted, with those trying to book one being offered two, and other people automatically being allocated four.
One user said: “It keeps changing the number of tickets I am asking for too…..still lots of bugs/errors in the booking software! Very disappointing.”
Moira Adam, Customer Operations Manager, Edinburgh Zoo said: “Edinburgh Zoo has invested heavily in systems for the giant panda arrival, and the website and telephone system have stood up to today’s unprecedented level of traffic, with no down time.
“The system behind the web booking process did go down for a short time, but our supplier confirmed that this was fixed and up and running within half an hour.”
It’s not the first time the panda project has suffered problems.
A mistake in the planning application for the pandas’ £300,000 enclosure lead to delays.
It did not originally need consent as the original aim was to refurbish the old gorilla pen but later development plans included expansion for a nursery for baby bears and the building of a surrounding walkway for visitors, with the additions requiring permission form Edinburgh City Council.
And the bill for the cage soared by another £28,000 after Chinese delegates demanded upgrades were made before the bear’s arrival.
Tian Tian and Yang Guang are being delivered to Edinburgh Zoo from the Bifengxia panda base, near the Chinese city ofYa’an, which lies 700 miles south west of Beijing.
Zoo bosses hope the pair will breed after they arrive in Scotland, which would be a rare accomplishment.
It is notoriously difficult to breed pandas in captivity, with the females of the species only becoming fertile for one day every year.
The animals will stay in Scotland for 10 years.
The panda enclosure will feature a climbing frame, surrounded by bulletproof glass which will allow 600 spectators an hour to see the animals.
The zoo had to demonstrate to the Chinese government that it had the commitment and expertise to take care of the rare bears.
The zoo has been in talks with the Chinese authorities, who have guardianship of most of the world’s pandas, for three-and-a-half years.
The deal to bring the pandas toEdinburgh, was sealed in January.