Little Panda meets the giant pandas
SCOTLAND’S most famous bears met their biggest fan this week when they were visited by a girl – called Panda.
Six-year-old Panda Wakefield was given the rare honour of a solo audience with Tian Tian and Yang Guang at Edinburgh zoo.
The primary two pupil from Perth was beside herself with excitement as she watched the giant pandas clambering around their enclosure.
Panda’s parents gave her the unusual name – years before it was even suggested that the animals might come to Scotland – simply because they loved it.
Her middle name, “Alice”, means that even her initials spell “PAW”.
Along with at least a dozen furry panda toys, Panda has a collection of panda backpacks, hats and clothes.
She visited the zoo on Thursday with classmates from Craigclowan primary in Perth.
Because of the special occasion, zoo bosses granted Panda a ten-minute slot alone with her idols.
Panda beamed happily, watching transfixed as female Tian Tian clambered around her indoor enclosure and Yang Guang enjoyed a snooze.
Afterwards, she was understandably struggling for words.
Clutching one of her own pandas, Tiddlywinks, she said: “I saw both of them, they were really fluffy.”
Panda’s mother, Pinkie, said: “She has been bursting with excitement since she discovered that she was coming to see the giant pandas.
“She loves everything giant panda and has just about every size of cuddly toy panda you could imagine.”
Pinkie added: “Panda was a name that my husband and I loved even before she was born.
“We’re big fans of pandas, they’re gorgeous.”
“Amazingly, before we told anyone what we were calling her, one of her very first presents only hours after she was born was a cuddly toy panda.”
On the unusual choice of name, Pinkie, 49, admitted: “At six it’s not a problem, it’s when she’s 16 I’m worried about it.
“We’ve given her an ordinary middle name, Alice, in case she changes her mind later on.”
Panda’s father, Paul, 40, who is operations director with landowners’ organisation Scottish Land and Estates, revealed: “I got a text from Pinkie when she was pregnant with David, our first child, saying Panda would be a nice name.
“I said that would be a great name. We had to wait another four-and-a-half years to use it.”
Darren McGarry, Head of Living Collections at the zoo, said: “It was particularly lovely to hear that there was a little girl called Panda coming to visit our very own giant pandas.
“Having access to giant pandas is such a wonderful educational opportunity for children all across the country.
“For many it is the first time that they have seen these captivating animals up close and in the flesh.”
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