Tian Tian, meet Tian Tian: panda gets new friend

Schoolgirl Tian Tian wrote a letter to the zoo when she heard Tian Tian the panda would be moving to Edinburgh Zoo

CHINESE panda Tian Tian made a new friend today when her seven-year-old namesake came to visit her in Edinburgh Zoo.

Tian Tian Brunton sent the female giant panda a special letter when she realised that they shared the same name.

But the coincidence doesn’t end there, as the seven-year-old also happens to share the same age and nationality as the Chinese bear.

In an effort to welcome the famous giant pandas to Edinburgh Zoo, Tian Tian offered her support and friendship to the new arrivals.

In her letter, the schoolgirl wrote: “Dear Tian Tian, I am really looking forward to you coming to Edinburgh as we have a lot of things in common with each other.

She continued: “The first thing we have is our name. This has made me quite famous in school has heard about you coming from China to live in Edinburgh.”

Tian Tian also told the bear how she too has Chinese roots.

“My mummy is Chinese. She is from Tianjin which is very close toBeijing. My Daddy is Scottish. He was born in Edinburgh.”

Hoping that the giant panda would not be lonely, Tian Tian offered to chat in Chinese to her and explained how pleased she was that the giant panda had brought her friend Yang Guang with her toScotland.

“Not many people in Scotland can speak Chinese but some are learning. [Are you] Lonely? We can have chats because I can speak Chinese.”

Tian Tian, her sister Lulu, five, and her parents, Ian and Nana, were invited to Edinburgh Zoo today to meet the famous new-comers.


Speaking today at the zoo, the seven-year-old said: “The best part of the day was seeing the panda and meeting her. Getting my photo taken with her was really good too.”

“I’ve got this sparkly panda bag and teddy just to see the pandas.

“I’ve been to China before and today was just like when I went there with everybody gathering round and being all excited at the pandas.”

Tian Tian’s mother spoke about the strange coincidence

Nana Brunton said: “The first time that we heard about the pandas was through the news and it was her name that caught our eye. Since then it has been non stop.”

“People we know have been coming up to us and saying ‘Your Tian Tian has the same name as the panda.’”

“In China the panda is well known as a symbol of friendship. China gave pandas to Taiwan to represent and show this. So pandas really have always meant a lot.”

The proud mother of two said the girls were ready to leave at 9 o’clock this morning.

“They couldn’t wait to get out the door,” she added.

Her dad Ian Brunton said: “”It was back in October that we decided to send in a letter. Tian Tian wrote it herself but I helped with the spelling of course.”

Hugh Roberts, Chief Executive for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland spoke of his delight about Tian Tian’s touching letter.

“We were really touched to receive Tian Tian Brunton’s letter and photograph.  A really enchanting read and we were only too happy to arrange for her to meet our panda of the same name.  Having access to giant pandas is an amazing educational opportunity for children all over Scotland and the UK.  It’s particularly lovely to hear of this special connection with a Scottish child.”

The pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang went on display to members of the public from Friday 16th December and created a media frenzy.

They were welcomed by hundreds of wellwishers following their much anticipated 5,000 mile journey from Chengdu, in China.

The animals will stay in the zoo for 10 years in a lease deal, and it is hoped they will produce cubs next spring.