The arrival of the Giant Pandas in Edinburgh in 2011 was a momentous event the city will never forget. Tian Tian and Yang Guang are the only two giant pandas in the whole of the UK and they are here on a 10 year loan from China.
The female panda is Tian Tian, which translates from Chinese as ‘Sweetie’. She was born in August 2003 and whilst the world watches her, waiting for the birth of cubs, she did previously have twin cubs back in China. The male is Yang Guang which translates from Chinese as ‘Sunshine’. He was also born in August 2003.
The pandas are found in the giant panda exhibit near the Monkey House and Penguins Rock at Edinburgh Zoo and they are specially refurbished enclosure which was formerly home to the gorillas. It offers a mixture of comfort for the pandas as well as visibility for the public and they are one of the zoo’s most popular exhibits. Viewing the pandas is free, but to cope with demand, you will be allocated a set time slot.
Pandas can also spend much of the day asleep. but if you don’t see any live action, don’t worry because there is a Panda Cam so you can watch online.
The pandas are in Edinburgh on a lease from the Bifengxia Breeding Centre and in October 2011 Chinese delegates were welcomed to Edinburgh to view and inspect the new homes of the pandas.
One of the main aims of the pandas’ arrival in Edinburgh is to hopefully see breeding between the pair. Tian Tian has been artificially inseminated on several occasions with the hope that a cub will be born. Natural mating is also attempted to see if they can produce a panda cub and whilst they carry out the insemination and breeding procedures the panda enclosure is closed to the public for Tian Tian’s safety and comfort.
The zoo saw visitor numbers up 200% thanks to the pandas by February 2012 and whilst they had only been there a couple of months, over 700,000 people had been to visit the pandas. The main focus of the news is whether or not Tian Tian will become pregnant and the hopes for a new cub before the pandas return to China.
Edinburgh Zoo is easily accessible by bus, with the number 12 passing close by The Royal Scots Club. You can also get the 26, 31 or 100 from Princes Street.