Edinburgh Zoo may be forced to return giant pandas to China, as 10-year agreement draws to a close

Two giant pandas face being returned to China, after the ten-year lease agreement that was agreed between the Chinese Government and Edinburgh Zoo draws to an end.

By Anna Bryan
Saturday, 4th December 2021, 10:22 am
Updated Saturday, 4th December 2021, 12:50 pm

The pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, arrived at Edinburgh Zoo in December 2011, and have now been living at the facility for an entire decade.

The zoo addressed the concerns about the pandas in a social media post celebrating a decade since their arrival, which read: "We still hope to extend their stay and remain in talks with our colleagues in China. We'll update everyone as soon as we can.”

The zoo had previously hoped to come to a new lease agreement with the Chinese by summer this year, as emails obtained through a Freedom of Information request by Deadline News found.

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An email, which was sent by David Field, the RZSS’s chief executive, in January 2021, read: “The agreement was signed in January 2011, but the effective end is December 2021.

“Any new extension should be agreed by June 2021.”

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Edinburgh Zoo pays about one million dollars a year to rent the pair.

The beloved pandas, who have been living at Edinburgh Zoo since 2011, may be returned to China, unless a new lease agreement is quickly agreed upon.

In 2011, the pandas flew from a breeding centre in the Sichuan province of China to Edinburgh Airport, in a ‘FedEx Panda Express’ cargo plane that was specially chartered for their journey.

It was originally hoped that pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang would breed and produce cubs in Scotland. However, this has not happened – despite many natural breeding and artificial insemination attempts.

The pandas are known to be a popular favourite amongst the visitors to Edinburgh Zoo.

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