Chinese pandas touch down in Edinburgh

by Alister POOLE on December 5, 2011

Two giant pandas have finally arrived in Edinburgh from China.

The specially-chartered flight, which lasted nine hours, touched down on Scottish soil shortly after 13:00. Edinburgh Zoo’s newest residents are named Yang Guang and Tian Tian and they are the first pandas of such a size to visit Britain in 17 years.

The pandas arrived in Edinburgh to wintry conditions with temperatures of around 3C, having left Chengdu Airport at temperatures of 10C. A Scottish correspondent said that Yang Guang, the male panda, had previously been rolling around and having fun in the snow in his native China – which makes him suitable to conditions in Scotland at the moment.

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, Lord Provost George Grubb, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and the Chinese Charge d’Affaires met the pandas at the airport. Tian Tian was the first to be safely taken off the aircraft, known as the “FedEx Panda Express”, and her specially-designed crate could be seen as fitted with perspex sides.

FedEx Express commented that the pair of pandas enjoyed specially-made in-flight meals that consisted of bamboo, apples, and also carrots, in addition to a special panda cake washed down with mineral water. For matters of health and safety, a vet and two expert animal handlers employed by Edinburgh Zoo accompanied the duo.

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