Edinburgh Zoo pandas: Final date to see Yang Guang and Tian Tian before giant pandas leave for China

Giant pandas Yang Guang and Tian Tian are set to return to China after spending 11 years at Edinburgh Zoo

Time is running out for those wishing to bid farewell to Edinburgh Zoo’s beloved giant pandas, with just two weeks left until they pack their bags for China.

From Thursday, November 30, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) will be restricting access to Yang Guang and Tian Tian’s enclosure as the panda pair prepare to return home. After that date, the animals may be out of sight as the wildlife conservation charity’s keepers ready the bears for the journey home in early December.

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The pandas arrived in the UK in 2011 on a 10-year loan in a partnership between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the China Wildlife Conservation Association in a bid to encourage breeding. The loan was extended by two years after the Covid-19 pandemic, however over the past 11 years, the pair have not been able to produce offspring.

David Field, RZSS chief executive, said: “With more than a million species at risk of extinction and our natural world in crisis, Yang Guang and Tian Tian have had an incredible impact by inspiring millions of people to care about nature. That added interest in the panda’s departure this year has allowed us to connect many more people with the conservation causes that RZSS is actively involved with, and with nature more generally.

“Through scientific research by our expert veterinary and keeper teams, working alongside the University of Edinburgh, we have made a significant contribution to our understanding around giant panda fertility, husbandry, and veterinary care – which has been of real benefit to efforts to protect this amazing species in China. It is encouraging that in recent years the outlook for giant pandas in the wild has improved, which gives real hope for the future.”

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