By S Silva
Image Courtesy of Sky News
It took five years of negotiation before Edinburgh Zoo signed an agreement to obtain the bears; a female called Tian Tian or ‘Sweetie’ and a male Yang Guang whose name translates as ‘Sunshine’.
Iain ‘Mr. Panda’ Valentine, Director of Conservation and Research at the zoo, said that Sweetie was a little bit nervous and will take a bit of time to settle but Sunshine had been calm all the way through. He told the BBC,
“it’s hugely satisfying…it’s been a long journey and a huge number of people involved… it’s the start of a new chapter..”
The Zoo is paying £600,000 per year to the Chinese authorities as well as £70,000 in bamboo costs.
Edinburgh Zoo hopes to recoup costs by doubling the number of visitors although entrance fees will not rise.
It also plans to grow its own bamboo to feed the 18 kilo per day needs of each bear.
The 5000 mile non-stop flight took nine hours and all four of the pilots wore kilts in recognition of their VIPs’ (very important pandas) new home.
Fed-Ex said the bears breakfasted on carrots and a special protein ‘panda cake’ and chose the in-flight vegetarian option of bamboo.
There is no word on which in-flight film was watched, Brighton Lite would speculate on Unbearable Lightness of Being, Bearfoot In The Park maybe Brother, Bear Art Thou, or any film that’s in black and white.
Panda-ring to public demand, virtual visitors can see the pair, who have yet to be introduced, via four hidden “panda-cams” in their enclosures.
The big aim of the project is for the notoriously ‘love-shy’ bears to sire a cub or two.
Their purpose built enclosures are linked by a ‘love tunnel’ where it is hoped that the bears will be able to kick back and relax during the Sweetie’s 36-hour fertile season.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, “I know we’re all keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the arrival of a little Mac panda sometime before too long.”
A cub would surely provoke panda-monium in the his or her land of birth.
Any progeny will belong to China although he and she will always be one of Jock Tamson’s bairns if the rapturous crowds who lined the three mile route from the airport to the zoo have anything to do with it.