THE pandas at Edinburgh Zoo have taken revenge on their poo-chucking penguin rivals.
Just weeks after the unruly birds pelted panda visitors with excrement, the bears have displaced them as the zoo’s most adopted animal.
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, which runs the zoo, today confirmed that the pandas already account for 16% of all adoptions.
The Chinese guests have taken the number one spot which was held for many years by various species of penguins, who have now been relegated to second, third and fourth positions.
Tian Tian and Yang Guang were backed up by another bear, as Walker the polar bear, who lives at the Highland Wildlife Park, was fifth choice.
King penguins took second place, followed by the Gentoo penguins and the Rockhoppers.
Tracy Hope, Assistant Development Manager of Membership and Animal Adoption at Edinburgh Zoo, said: “We’ve had an outstanding number of people adopt our pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang since they arrived at Edinburgh Zoo late last year. Due to their incredible popularity it’s not a surprise how quickly they became the new ‘favourites’ for adoption. Our king penguins had actually been top of the animal adoption list for the last seven years, but being very regal poised birds they seem to be taking the news very well.”
The pandas arrived in Scotland in December.
They were flown into Edinburgh airport on a specially decorated plane in a 5000-mile journey from the Bifengxia panda base, near the Chinese city ofYa’an, which lies 700 miles south west of Beijing.
It was the now fourth-placed Rockhoppers that pelted panda visitors with their droppings shortly after the bears went on display.
The cunning birds used their height advantage – the penguin enclosure is further up the hill on which the zoo is built than the pandas’ home – to target animal lovers with plunging fire.
The pandas’ departure from China was the culmination of five years of campaigning by both the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the British Government.
The panda loan is for a decade, and will cost the zoo £600,000 a year.
Coupled with the £70,000-a-year cost of feeding them bamboo (most of it imported from Holland), plus the creation of a £250,000 enclosure, the total bill will near £8million.
However, Edinburgh Zoo says it expects to attract at least a million extra visitors over the decade.