Giant panda gets electric shock from his new enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo

HORRIFIED families watched as one of Edinburgh Zoo’s giant pandas got a shock from the electric fence in his new enclosure.

Monday, 22nd July 2019, 5:32 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd July 2019, 6:32 pm
A visitor reported seeing Yang Guang visibly upset by his ordeal last Wednesday.
A visitor reported seeing Yang Guang visibly upset by his ordeal last Wednesday.

HORRIFIED families watched as one of Edinburgh Zoo’s giant pandas got a shock from the electric fence in his new enclosure.

A visitor reported seeing male Yang Guang - meaning Sunlight - reeling away in fear before cowering in his den.

Keepers said the charged perimeter was to keep both animals and the public safe while assuring the bear was only jolted once as he gets used to his new surroundings.

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One zoo visitor said: “I saw the male panda try and climb the fence and he got electrocuted..

“You could tell he was scared because he ran off into his den. The old enclosure had glass but this one doesn’t - it must be to stop him from climbing out but it’s cruel.”

The new pen was unveiled earlier this month with Yang Guang taking his first tentative steps around his new home.

Keepers are opening the new habitat to the public gradually, allowing time for both pandas to settle in.

Both Yang Guang and female Tian Tian - meaning Sweetie - were moved to prevent any disturbance from the redevelopment of the former Corstorphine Hospital next to the zoo.

The new pen ran into controversy after it was reportedly built with a secret £2million grant from the Scottish Government after zoo chiefs threatened to block a windfall for taxpayers.

Bosses at the attraction demanded the cash after claiming building work on the neighbouring hospital could kill the bears.

Zoo chairman Jeremy Peat warned last year the construction noise and vibration could "lead to one or both dying".

Unveiling the new enclosure earlier this month, Darren McGarry, Head of Living Collections at Edinburgh Zoo, said: “It was fantastic to see Yang Guang out for the first time and exploring his new home.

“He was very excited to take a good look around, climb up the nearest tree and get up on the climbing frame.

“Both our pandas need some time to get used to their new surroundings, so we are gradually opening outdoor viewing to the public over the next few weeks as they become more confident.”

Mr McGarry added: “Moving the pandas gave us an opportunity to apply what we have learned over the past eight years and make the most of the fantastic natural setting at the top of the hill.”

Tian Tian was also moved home with the zoo's panda cam giving the public the chance to check her progress.

The Evening News reported last year how Yang Guang had both testicles removed after tumours were found - dealing a blow to breeding hopes.

A sixth attempt to artificially inseminate female Sweetie took place in March.

Yang Guang and Tian Tian have been on loan to Edinburgh Zoo since 2011 from China in a £600,000-a-year deal - but hopes of panda cubs have so far come to nothing.

The zoo announced a few months ago no attempt will be made to get the pandas to breed this year.

Charlotte Macdonald, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s director of conservation and living collections, said: “Yang Guang had one shock from an electric fence when he was exploring outside last week.

“Just like farm animals, zoo animals tend to learn very quickly to avoid electric fences, which are there for their safety and to protect the public.

“Yang Guang is being slowly introduced to his new surroundings and has been really enjoying playing on his platforms and climbing trees.