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Edinburgh Live
Edinburgh Live
Katie Williams

Edinburgh Zoo plans giant farewell for popular panda pair as they return to China

A giant farewell has been planned as a pair of beloved pandas at Edinburgh Zoo are set to travel back to China.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) has announced plans to give giant pandas Yang Guang and Tian Tian a 'giant' send off with a new series of events and experiences.

This comes as the couple failed to breed after living in Edinburgh for over 10 year. Yang Guang and Tian Tian arrived in Scotland in 2011 and is set to be sent back to their homeland in October 2023.

READ NEXT- Beloved Edinburgh Zoo pandas to return to China after failing to breed

Fans of the pandas will be able to book into events and experiences from Monday January 9 with an exclusive ‘Panda Magic Moments’ which will only be available to RZSS members, patrons and giant panda adopters.

Yang Guang and Tian Tian arrived in Edinburgh in December 2011 as part of a 10-year arrangement between RZSS and the China Wildlife Conservation Association, which was extended by two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The giant pandas could leave the capital as early as the end of October 2023 with travel details to be confirmed closer to the time.

David Field, RZSS chief executive, said, “We were thrilled to extend Yang Guang and Tian Tian’s stay at Edinburgh Zoo, especially as the pandemic made it much harder for people to visit and would have prevented our giant panda keepers from travelling to China to help the pair settle into their new homes.

“As the UK’s only giant pandas, they have been incredibly popular with visitors which has helped to connect millions of people to nature as well as raising vital funds for wildlife conservation.

“Through a new range of events and experiences, we will be providing as many opportunities as possible for people to say goodbye and to celebrate the tremendous impact these two charismatic bears have had on our communities, helping to create a world where nature is protected, valued and loved.

“Panda magic moments will be popular, with our members, patrons and giant panda adopters having the opportunity to meet and feed Yang Guang. Other experiences available to everyone will include panda talks and brunch events.

“The funds raised will help us to save wildlife from extinction, including species in Scotland such as the wildcat and pine hoverfly, chimpanzees in Uganda and giant armadillos in Brazil.”

David added: “We are facing a biodiversity crisis and it is vital that we expand our work to protect more endangered animals around the world,” Field said.

“By collaborating with partners in China and welcoming Yang Guang and Tian Tian to Scotland, we have had many successes for over the past 11 years in terms of technique exchanges, scientific research and public engagement.

“We are also very proud of the contribution we have made to giant panda breeding research alongside our partners at the University of Edinburgh and our findings have been of real benefit to international efforts to protect the species.

“After the pandas leave, we will decide on a new species with a crucial factor being how we can support conservation in the wild.”

RZSS has pledged to reverse the decline of at least 50 species by 2030 and the charity intends to convert the zoo’s giant panda habitat to welcome a new animal in the future.


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