We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Yang Guang eats bamboo prior to a journey to Britain in Ya'an, southwest China's Sichuan Province AP Photo/Xinhua, Li Qiaoqiao

Two giant pandas from China land in Scotland

The Scottish government has said the loan of the pandas symbolises a “growing friendship” between Scotland and China.

TWO GIANT PANDAS from China landed in Scotland today, where they will become the first pandas to live in Britain in nearly two decades.

The 8-year-old pair, named Tian Tian and Yang Guang — or Sweetie and Sunshine — were welcomed by bagpipe players and a host of dignitaries as they touched down at Edinburgh Airport on a specially chartered Boeing 777 flight called the “Panda Express.”

The pandas, from the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan, are to stay for 10 years at Edinburgh Zoo, where officials hope they will give birth to cubs. The female, Tian Tian, has had twin cubs in the past, but not with Yang Guang. The male panda has previously fathered cubs as well.

The Scottish government has said the loan of the pandas symbolises a “growing friendship” between Scotland and China.

China sometimes gifts or lends the cuddly looking animals — considered a Chinese national treasure — to other countries as a sign of cooperation.

In 1974, British Prime Minister Edward Heath received two pandas from the Chinese government as a goodwill gift to mark his visit to China. Female Ching-Ching and male Chia-Chia became a much-loved attraction at the London Zoo, but never produced any cubs.

Zoo officials have spent the past five years securing the loan of the animals, which are expected to boost Scottish tourism.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland will pay more than 600,000 pounds ($935,000) a year to China for the loan of Sweetie and Sunshine, not including the expense of imported bamboo.

Britain’s last giant panda, Ming Ming, lived in the London Zoo until 1994, when she was returned to China.

Two giant pandas from China land in Scotland
1 / 3
  • Yang Guang

  • Yang Guang

  • China Britain Pandas

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Associated Foreign Press
Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.