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Pandas given front-page send-off as daily marks end of era at zoo

Edinburgh said goodbye to its famous pandas this week as the city’s daily title paid tribute to their Chinese guests with a special front-page message.

The Edinburgh Evening News ran with an image of one of the two beloved bears and a headline which spoke the for the whole region, saying: ‘We Will Miss You’.

Giant Pandas Yang Guang and Tian Tian, who had been guests of Edinburgh Zoo since 2011, flew back home this week exactly 12 years to the day since their arrival.

The front page was accompanied by an inside piece and a comment, as well as online content.

The Edinburgh Evening News front page.

Opinion reporter Susan Dalgety explained that while the pair failed to produce what everyone was hoping for – a baby panda – they were going to be missed terribly.

She wrote: “The pandas often spent much of their day inside their enclosure, their backs to visitors. The zoo failed in its attempt to get the pair to breed. Pandas may be cuddly creatures, but they are notoriously bad at sex.

“Female pandas are only fertile for a few hours once a year, and according to Scientific America, there is ‘perhaps no mammal that is less often in the mood for sex than the female giant panda’.

“Eight attempts at artificial insemination failed, and since 2021 Tian Tian has been left in peace.

“She and her partner may not have given Scotland – and the world – what we all wanted, a baby panda, but during their 12-year stay they delighted us with their presence.

“They will be missed, but probably not by the penguins, who are now back in their rightful place as the zoo’s number one attraction.”

Neil Johnstone also covered their departure and spoke to one man who has grown rather attached to the animals, head keeper Michael Livingstone.

Mr Livingstone, the senior animal keeper at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), told the News: “It’s an emotional day for us keepers that have been fortunate enough to care for Yang Guang and Tian Tian over the years.

“It has been the highlight of my career to work this amazing species and I will definitely miss them. I’m lucky enough to be travelling on the plane with them to China to help them settle in and I think it will be nice for them to hear a familiar voice as they get used to their new home.”

The panda’s enclosure at the zoo will house Koalas temporarily before a new species of animal moves in next year.