Edinburgh Zoo’s giant panda Yang Guang and his keeper have both been nominated for top prizes at the third annual Giant Panda Zoo Awards.
Yang Guang has been nominated in the cuddly, yet fierce and competitive, “Favourite Panda Outside of China” category and one of his keepers, Michael Livingstone, has been nominated for the “Panda Keeper of the Year” award.
Michael, 26, has been a zoo keeper at Edinburgh Zoo since the summer of 2009.
The awards were created by a panda conservationist from Belgium, Jeroen Jacobs who runs the Gaint Panda Zoo website.
The organisation monitors pandas all over the world with the aim of promoting panda conservation, education and research activities.
The nominees were announced this morning (12 December 2014) and voting is now opened and will close on 18 January 2015. The Gold, Bronze and Silver awards will be up for grabs.
Michael Livingstone, giant panda and carnivore keeper at Edinburgh Zoo, said:
“We are honoured to be nominated for two Giant Panda Zoo Awards this year. Not only do they highlight and reward organisations involved in panda conservation, but are a unique tool to educate the public on the issues faced by the giant panda and inspire people to discover what can be done to help.
“I was overwhelmed when I first found out that I had been nominated, and a little shocked as it was completely out of the blue! I’m definitely in good company as Yang Guang has also been nominated this year for the ‘Favourite Panda Outside of China’ award.
“We’ve had success in this category before as Yang Guang actually won the silver prize in the inaugural year of the awards, then the following yearour female panda Tian Tian won Gold!”
Alongside the day-to-day care of the two pandas, Michael is involved in the panda breeding programme for which he regularly collects samples from both pandas and monitors their behaviour.
In July this year, Michael also visited the Bifengxia panda base where he spent time with Chinese colleagues learning about pregnant pandas, pandas in labour and newborn cubs.