Edinburgh Zoo Pandas

Edinburgh Zoo Pandas
Edinburgh Zoo Pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang were taken to specially built enclosures at the zoo from Edinburgh airport, where they arrived on a charter flight – dubbed the “Panda Express” – at lunchtime on Sunday.

The eight-year-old breeding pair will stay at the zoo for the next 10 years. They were given an in-flight meal of bamboo, apples, carrots and a special “panda cake” during their long journey.

The pandas’ arrival also marks the culmination of a five-year effort to bring them to Scotland.

They will now have two weeks to settle into their new enclosure before going on display to the public.

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore was among the welcoming delegation at the airport to greet the pandas as the flight arrived just after 1pm on Sunday.

He said: “The pandas are a symbol of the regard in which the UK is held around the world. I have no doubt they will prove a huge attraction and warmly welcome them to their new home here in Scotland.”

Meanwhile, First Minister Alex Salmond, who is currently in China, will thank the Chinese vice premier, Li Keqiang, in a meeting in Beijing on Monday.

Mr Salmond said: "As panda-mania hits Scotland, and we extend a warm Scottish welcome to Tian Tian and Yang Guang, I am delighted to have the opportunity to personally thank the Chinese government and extend our thanks to vice premier Li Keqiang, who visited Edinburgh himself earlier this year.”

Tian Tian, whose name means "sweetie", and Yang Guang, meaning "sunlight", travelled from China on board a Boeing 777F flight along with a vet and two animal handlers.

Four pilots with extensive experience in transporting some of the world’s most precious creatures, including white rhinos and penguins, were also on the flight.

The bears were unloaded to the sound of bagpipes and cheers.

Captain Paul Cassell said: “It was an absolute privilege and honour to fly Tian Tian and Yang Guang, and to be part of this significant moment to bring the pandas to their new home.

“Although every flight is unique, this flight has been particularly special – carrying such rare animals made the journey very exciting for all of us.”

It is hoped that the pandas, the first to live in the UK for 17 years, will eventually give birth to cubs.

Zoo bosses have described their arrival as a “historic occasion” for the attraction and the UK as a whole.

Hundreds of well-wishers greeted the new arrivals when they got to the zoo, with a police escort guiding them on their short journey from the airport.

Zoo chief executive Hugh Roberts said he was "so proud" to have the pandas at the visitor attraction.

"This is the moment we have been waiting for since we first discussed bringing the giant pandas to Edinburgh almost five years ago," he said. "We see the pandas as catalysts for research, education and conservation - aimed at improving the future for pandas."

Source: stv
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