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Giant panda Q and A

07/12/2021 in Edinburgh Zoo

We are thrilled that Yang Guang and Tian Tian will be staying at Edinburgh Zoo for two more years.  

Through co-operation with our partners in China, we have had many successes over the past ten years in terms of technique exchanges, scientific research and public engagement.  

We know lots of you have questions about our giant pandas. Please do read the FAQs below for the latest information. 

How long are Yang Guang and Tian Tian staying for?   

They will return to China at the end of 2023. Yang Guang and Tian Tian have helped millions of people connect with nature, so it is fantastic that they will be with us a little longer before we say goodbye, especially as the pandemic has made it much harder for people to visit them. 

We also hope that international travel restrictions will ease over the next two years, meaning our giant panda keepers will be able to travel with Yang Guang and Tian Tian to China and help them settle into their new homes. This will be ideal as they both have strong bonds with our panda team. 

Why are they going back to China? 

Yang Guang and Tian Tian arrived in Edinburgh in December 2011 as part of a 10-year arrangement between our charity and the China Wildlife Conservation Association which has now been extended for a further two years. 

We are facing a biodiversity crisis and it is vital that we expand our work to protect more endangered animals around the world. Many other animals still face threat of extinction and we are excited about working with a new species at Edinburgh Zoo.  

We will decide on the species over the next year, with a crucial factor being how we can support conservation in the wild. 

Can I come and see the pandas before they leave at the end of 2023?  

Yes! We are open seven days a week (excluding Christmas and Boxing Day) to pre-booked visitors and RZSS members while restrictions are still in place in Scotland.  

Find out more about visiting and how to book tickets at edinburghzoo.org.uk/we-are-open  

Will you attempt breeding again next year? 

No. Breeding will not be attempted during the final two years of the giant pandas being in Edinburgh.  

Natural and artificial insemination breeding has not been successful and now is the time to move on and just enjoy having Yang Guang and Tian Tian with us for two more years. 

Why do you pay to have the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo and how much does it cost to take care of them?  

Like all the animals in our care, our pandas play a critically important role in attracting and engaging hundreds of thousands of visitors each year so they can learn about the threats animals face in the wild and the action they can take to help. Their power to connect with people with nature and encourage behaviour change is invaluable. 

Caring for Tian Tian and Yang Guang, including their food and overall healthcare, costs our charity £35,000 each month.  

In addition, the extended agreement includes an annual payment of $500,000. This is often referred to as a loan payment when in fact this donation supports giant panda conservation, welfare and research in China.  

Will you get more pandas when Yang Guang and Tian Tian leave? 

No. Plans will be made to convert the giant panda habitat at the zoo for a new species to arrive. 

We are facing a biodiversity crisis and it is vital that we expand our work to protect more endangered animals around the world.  

It is encouraging that the status of giant pandas in the wild has been moved by the IUCN from endangered to vulnerable thanks to conservation efforts in China. However, their conservation still faces many challenges, so we will continue to make a substantial annual donation to support this work while Yang Guang and Tian Tian remain with us. 

Many other animals still face threat of extinction and we are excited about working with a new species at Edinburgh Zoo. We will decide on the species over the next year, with a crucial factor being how we can support conservation in the wild. 

Each visit to Edinburgh Zoo supports conservation, research and education here in Scotland and around the world. You can help care for our animals and protect wildlife around the world by visiting our parks, joining RZSS as a member, adopting your favourite species or making a donation today at edinburghzoo.org.uk/help. 

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