Giant pandas Yang Guang and Tian Tian return to China after 12 years in UK

2023-12-06 Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Beloved giant pandas Yang Guang and Tian Tian have returned to their homeland of China after spending the past 12 years at the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, UK. The pandas, who are both 20 years old, arrived at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport on Tuesday morning, having departed from Edinburgh Zoo on Monday.

The pair will undergo a one-month quarantine period at the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda before being transferred to a permanent home in Sichuan province.

Yang Guang and Tian Tian's departure from Edinburgh Zoo was met with an outpouring of love and support from zoo visitors and fans worldwide. Despite the chilly weather, many people flocked to the zoo to bid farewell to the pandas, leaving messages of affection and gratitude online.

"Because they are such an iconic species, and because they are such a popular storybook species, that when people see them in real life, there's such an emotional response," said David Field, CEO of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.

Both born in 2003, Yang Guang and Tian Tian originally arrived in the UK in 2011 under a 10-year agreement between the China Wildlife Conservation Association and the British side. The agreement was later extended for two more years in 2021.

During their time in Edinburgh, the pandas became immensely popular, attracting millions of visitors to the zoo.

Despite extensive efforts, Yang Guang and Tian Tian were unable to produce any offspring during their time in the UK. However, their presence in Scotland played a significant role in raising awareness and understanding of giant pandas, contributing to global conservation efforts.

Field noted that the collaboration between China and the UK has been invaluable in advancing knowledge about giant panda breeding behavior, nutrition, and veterinary care. He expressed confidence that this shared expertise will contribute to the ongoing conservation of giant pandas in the wild.

The return of Yang Guang and Tian Tian is part of a broader effort to repatriate giant pandas that have been living abroad. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many pandas' stays were extended, but with the pandemic subsiding, these pandas are now being returned to China.

Chengdu-based media outlet Cover News reports that Yang Guang and Tian Tian are the 14th and 15th pandas to return from overseas this year. Another panda, Le Le, a 2-year-old born in Singapore, is also scheduled to return to China soon.

Some of the returning pandas, like Yang Guang and Tian Tian, are reaching their senior years and will benefit from the comprehensive medical care available in China.

Others are returning to China at an age where they can begin breeding, contributing to the conservation of their species.

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