Visitors to Edinburgh Zoo had their last chance to see and say goodbye to a pair of popular giant pandas on Thursday who are returning to China after more than a decade in Scotland.
Yang Guang and Tian Tian are leaving in early December after 12 years. It has been a popular attraction since people lined the street outside the zoo to greet them when they arrived in 2011.
They are the latest pandas to leave the West after swap agreements expired and were not renewed by China.
3 GIANT FOREVERS LEAVE DC’S SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL ZOO FOR CHINA, ENDING 50 YEARS
The only US zoo with pandas is in Atlanta, and its deal expires next year. Washington’s National Zoo sent its three pandas — Mei Xiang, Tian Tian and their cub, Xiao Qi Ji — to China earlier in November. The black and white bears at the San Diego Zoo were sent home in 2019, and the remaining pandas at the Memphis, Tennessee Zoo returned earlier this year.
Veteran China watchers speculate that the People’s Republic is gradually withdrawing its bears from US and European zoos because of tensions with Western governments over a range of issues.
But Chinese President Xi Jinping said during his recent trip to the US that his government is “ready to continue” lending bears to US zoos, giving American panda fans hope that they haven’t seen the last of them. .
GIANTS WILL ALWAYS LEAVE EARLIER THAN EXPECTED FROM NATIONAL ZOO IN DC FOR CHINA
Scottish pair are UK’s only pandas After unsuccessful breeding attempts — natural and artificial — the zoo said it has no plans to bring in more because a global biodiversity crisis requires it to work to protect more endangered animals.
“With more than a million species at risk of extinction and our natural world in crisis, Yang Guang and Tian Tian have had an incredible impact by inspiring millions of people to care about nature,” said David Field, chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society. of Scotland. “This added interest in the panda retreat this year has allowed us to connect many more people with the conservation causes (we are involved in) actively and with nature in general.”
Everything was loaned to the zoo in 2011 under a 10-year deal that the China Wildlife Conservation Association extended for two more years.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
The panda exhibit was closed to the public Thursday afternoon to allow staff to begin preparing the bears for their return.