IT’S set to be the ultimate fly-on-the-wall entertainment for next year – but it certainly won’t be X-rated.
Edinburgh Zoo’s giant pandas are to become international stars as their life in the Capital is captured by “panda-cams” in their enclosures and beamed live to fans online.
But there will be no joy for the nosiest of panda fans if they’re hoping to find out for themselves whether Tian Tian and Yang Guang decide to mate.
The cameras will only cover the outdoor enclosures, where the pair are to be kept separate. Their inner boudoir, where they will have a joint enclosure, will be kept strictly off-camera.
Zoo bosses say they will review the camera locations after six months, but it is understood that the most likely time for them to mate will be a short period in February.
The zoo is still hopeful that the pandas will arrive in the Capital this year, though it is not known exactly when the public will be allowed to view them.
Once they have settled in, the live feeds will appear online during daylight hours, with everyone able to watch male panda Yang Guang, while only members of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland will have access to the camera viewing female panda, Tian Tian, via a special members-only portal.
It has not yet been decided where exactly in the enclosures to put the cameras, but they could be trained on the animals as they swim in their custom-built pool, climb trees, or enjoy tucking into a meal of bamboo.
Zoo chief executive Hugh Roberts said: “Our panda-cams will provide an easily accessible medium for people across the world to watch, in close-up, one of the world’s most endearing creatures.
“Education is at the forefront of Edinburgh Zoo’s role in supporting giant panda conservation, and our panda-cams will allow a wider, global audience to learn more about these elusive animals.
“It means that, wherever you are, you will have the chance to be part of Edinburgh Zoo’s panda experience.”
The move comes after the zoo’s penguins became internet stars last winter thanks to the penguin-cam situated in the birds’ enclosure. During last November’s bad weather, more than 200,000 people logged on around the world to watch them frolicking in the snow.
There have been reports that unexplained delays to the pandas’ arrival meant they wouldn’t be seen by visitors until the New Year, but the zoo says it has never committed to a specific date for the enclosure to be opened to the public.
The pandas are currently in quarantine in China, and after their arrival in Edinburgh will be given time to settle into their £300,000 enclosure before the first visitors are allowed to see them, either online or in person.