Clifton College Website

Student Contributions

Elizabeth Edwards
Upper Sixth
West Town

Pandemonium at Edinburgh Zoo!

Pandemonium at Edinburgh Zoo!

On the 4th of December, two giant pandas will be arriving at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland. After travelling over 5,099 miles from the Wolong Panda Breeding Centre in Sichuan Province of China, they shall now reside in two specially designed enclosures which cost £250,000 to build. The pandas are called Tian Tian (which means sweetie) and Yang Guang (sunshine) and were born in 2003. After 5 years of preparation and negotiations they shall finally be staying with the zoo as part of a 10 year agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA). Hopefully they will be able to mate and produce panda cubs in the near future, although successfully breeding this endangered species is notoriously difficult. As they are very solitary creatures, they will be kept in separate enclosures but with the opportunity to see and smell each other and when Tian Tian is in season they shall be introduced.

Although the project’s main focus is on conservation and research, it will also benefit the local economy by providing an increase in tourism, as well as educating the local populace about the plight of the panda. Plus the project emphasises a growing partnership between the CWCA and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.

Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador to the UK, said: "At its core, the project represents the growing scientific ties between China and Britain. But this is about much more than conservation. It is also about science, culture, education and above all friendship and partnership. Through these themes we expect pandas to bring China and Britain even closer together."

The arrival of the two pandas in Edinburgh highlights the significance that zoos now play in conservation efforts across the globe. For example Bristol Zoo, which Clifton College has close links with, is currently running the EAZA ape-campaign which aims to promote awareness of threats facing wild apes and raise £800,000 to create a Conservation Fund. It is also working with the Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation on projects worldwide from protecting forests in the Philippines to looking after lemurs in Madagascar.

Hopefully the two pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, will settle down and enjoy their new homes. Their arrival marks a historic event for Edinburgh zoo, as the pandas will be the only ones of their kind in the UK and one of only three breeding pairs in Europe. This project will hopefully lead to further understanding of how we can protect and conserve the 1,500 pandas left in the wild today.

Female giant panda Tian Tian in her enclosure in China

Female giant panda Tian Tian in her enclosure in China.
Photo taken from

5 December 2011

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