In December 2011 Edinburgh Zoo unveiled its newest attraction - two Giant Pandas named Tian Tian and Yang Guang, which had just arrived from China. The pandas are a breeding pair and, although it is notoriously difficult to get pandas to breed in captivity, it is hoped that the state of the art enclosure, and the similarity between the climate in Edinburgh and the panda's home of Sichuan Province, will encourage the pitter-patter of tiny paws during the panda's ten year stay in Scotland’s capital.
Edinburgh Zoo — Photo courtesy of Thomas Nugent
Edinburgh Zoo is the only zoo in the UK to be home to a pair of pandas and will be the first in the world to undertake a research program to reintroduce pandas into the wild. There is no extra charge to view the Giant Pandas, but you do need to obtain a ticket for a specific time slot. These are available from the Edinburgh Zoo website but must be bought at least one day before you plan on visiting and printed before arrival, as there are no printing facilities at the zoo.
The zoo has also announced a unique “Panda Keeper Experience”. For an additional fee, a limited number of visitors can enjoy a VIP visit with the pandas after the zoo closes to the public and may even get the chance to hand-feed these beautiful animals. This treat is not cheap, but for serious animal lovers it is a once in a lifetime chance to get close to one of the world’s most iconic endangered species.