Yang Guang and Tian Tian -the UK’s solely large pandas – are leaving for China at this time after spending 12 years in Scotland.
For greater than a decade the massive, furry animals have been the star attraction of Edinburgh Zoo since arriving in 2011.
Nonetheless, they’re now returning underneath the phrases of a 10-year settlement between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and the China Wildlife Conservation Affiliation, which was prolonged by two years because of the COVID pandemic.
David Subject, RZSS chief government, mentioned the pair have had an “unimaginable influence by inspiring tens of millions of individuals to care about nature”.
After arriving on British shores, the goal had been for feminine panda Tian Tian and male Yang Guang to provide the pitter-patter of tiny paws, however they didn’t produce a cub.
Guests got a remaining likelihood to say farewell to the bears final week earlier than they have been ready for his or her return flight to China, with every travelling in a specifically designed steel crate.
‘A tragic and emotional time’
Michael Livingstone, a senior animal keeper on the zoo, will be part of them for the journey, together with an RZSS vet.
Mr Livingstone described taking care of the pandas because the “spotlight of my profession”.
He mentioned: “They’re very totally different to take care of. As a staff now we have sorted many alternative species of bear and we have been pretty assured we knew what sort of hurdles we would have to cross and bounce over for taking care of pandas, and once they arrived it was utterly totally different to what we thought.
“They’re a really delicate, very specialised species so we in a short time discovered all of the various things we would have liked to do with them or round them.”
He added: “It’s unhappy for us that they’re going again, I believe it is at all times been a kind of issues that is simply been sooner or later and now we’re on the level the place it is truly taking place.
“I can converse for myself and the opposite keepers within the staff on the zoo which have sorted them – it may be a little bit of a tragic and emotional time.”
Professor Simon Girling, head of veterinary providers on the RZSS, mentioned the pandas have been well-liked with employees and guests alike and will probably be missed – including their presence on the zoo has helped with analysis and conservation efforts.
“It is unhappy that Tian Tian hasn’t bred right here, we’d clearly actually have preferred her to have completed so, however this isn’t uncommon with large pandas, they’re troublesome to breed, there’s a cause why they’re endangered,” he mentioned.
“However on the identical time, we have been capable of collaborate with so many researchers world wide and we have been in a position to attract so many members of the general public in to grasp our conservation message right here, and I believe that has been a very Positive factor, and we have got two beautiful wholesome pandas so we’re actually happy with that.”