The wait is almost over, as Edinburgh Zoo’s giant pandas prepare for their highly anticipated public debut next Friday.
With less than a week to go until panda fans can visit Tian Tian (‘Sweetie’) and Yang Guang (‘Sunshine’), Edinburgh Zoo is making final preparations to ensure the visitor experience is world-class.
To meet the excited crowds, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) has recruited The Panda Patrol – a troupe of 14 trained helpers who will guide visitors through the exhibit, having spent weeks swotting up on panda facts, behaviour and biology.
Scotland’s first giant pandas arrived in the capital on Sunday 4 December, and have settled into their new environment, munching through almost 50kg of bamboo each day while relaxing in their carefully designed new enclosures.
To guarantee viewing and to avoid disappointment, all visitors are being encouraged to pre-book their panda viewing online when purchasing Zoo entry tickets. Around one third of panda tickets will also be put aside for visitors coming to the zoo, available on a first come first served basis.
Visitors are not being charged extra to see the pandas, but due to the high demand, time-ticketing is in operation with visitors able to select a visiting time, with around 200 spaces available for each half-hourly interval.
The giant pandas’ arrival represents the culmination of five years’ political and diplomatic negotiation at the highest level, spearheaded by the RZSS.
Hugh Roberts, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Zoo, said: “Tian Tian and Yang Guang’s arrival has been met by a wave of excitement and thousands have been anticipating the day they can finally see the giant pandas. That day is nearly upon us, as ‘Sweetie’ and ‘Sunshine’ prepare to meet the public on Friday 16 December, less than two weeks after arriving in theUK.
“Our dedicated team at the Zoo has worked tirelessly to create a world-class enclosure to house our newest additions, offering visitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view these extraordinary animals. We want as many people as possible to view our giant pandas in a comfortable and accessible environment, and our advance-booking system will allow us to do this.”
The arrival of the giant pandas inEdinburghhas cemented the RZSS’s role in the future research and conservation of one of the world’s most endangered species. It is the beginning of a long-term partnership which will drive a programme of international research, brining benefits to the Zoo,Scotlandand theUK- both in supporting giant panda conservation and by enhancing programmes in education, science and conservation.
The Giant Panda project will be funded entirely from charitable donations from the RZSS and through sponsorship, offering unparalleled opportunities in terms of international corporate, commercial and diplomatic relationships betweenChinaand theUK.
The RZSS, a registered charity, worked in close partnership with theUK, Chinese and Scottish Governments, the CWCA and the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda inSichuanProvince– the first organisation to artificially breed giant pandas – to facilitate this project and provide mutual and ongoing support throughout its 10-year lifespan.
FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp, donated its logistical services to transport the giant pandas fromChinatoScotland. The Pandas travelled onboard a FedEx Express Boeing 777 Freighter in custom Panda livery – known as the “FedEx Panda Express”.
For more information on the giant pandas at Edinburgh Zoo, including pre-booking arrangements, visit http://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/.