They arrived in December and already these eight-year olds are the sweethearts of Scotland. The first giant pandas to live in Britain for nearly twenty years, Tian Tian (Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine) took their first sick leave days this month when they got colic but they’re now back on show at the Edinburgh Zoo.
Their arrival at the zoo has been marked by the launch of a new tartan. Yes, the Edinburgh Zoo commissioned a specially designed tartan for the pandas. It’s based on the Gillespie Tartan because Thomas Gillespie was the man who began the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland in 1909. Its colors are black and white (of course) with some red to symbolize China (who has loaned the giant pandas) as well as good luck and birth.
Apart from their recent bout of illness, the pandas seem to be happy in Scotland, climbing in their special tree house/climbing frames and attracting huge crowds. Visitors to the zoo have increased by 200% since the pandas arrived. Their popularity explains why you’ll need to book ahead for a timed slot to go and see them.
The pandas move to Scotland has been planned since 2008 and they will be in Edinburgh for ten years. It’s hoped that in this time they will have cubs. Since there are only 1,500 giant pandas left in the world, zoos are doing research and undertaking breeding programs to help the species. Maybe Edinburgh will hear the patter of tiny panda feet soon. Will the baby blankets be made of Panda Tartan?