Edinburgh Zoo pandas: Royal Zoological Society of Scotland working to extend lease of pandas Tian Tian and Yan Guang

Emails from Edinburgh Zoo reveal that they are seeking to extend the 10-year lease of two giant pandas.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 9:05 am
Updated Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 2:31 pm

Although their deal with China is due to conclude in December this year, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) said they “very much” hope to keep the giant panda duo.

It was initially hoped that pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang would breed and produce cubs in Scotland, however, this is yet to happen.

Delivered to Edinburgh in 2011, the bears – which cost around £1 million to lease per year— were to be returned to China this year.

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Tian Tian in her enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo (Photo: Andrew Milligan).

However, email exchanges between the RZSS and the Scottish Government – initially reported by the Times – reveal that the zoo is seeking an extension by June.

An email from the RZSS’s director of engagement from January 2021 said that returning the pandas to China by the end of 2021 was a “concern”.

The email read: “You mentioned that the cabinet secretary may be able to raise this with counterparts in the UK government, which would be very helpful.

“Our exit surveys have consistently shown the pandas to be the favourite animal among our visitors.”

Male panda Yang Guang eats bamboo in his enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo (Photo: Andrew Milligan).

In April, Tian Tian was artificially inseminated for the eighth time using semen from China after failing to breed naturally with Yang Guang.

Zoo officials said that the 80kg bear “is in good health” following the procedure, but warned that “it is too early to know if she is pregnant”.

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