Giant pandas to be FedEx-ed from China to Britain
The first giant pandas to live in Britain for 17 years will arrive at their new home within days. And they are coming special delivery - by FedEx.
Tian Tian and Yang Guang will arrive in Edinburgh from the Ya'an reserve in Chengdu, China, on Sunday.
The breeding pair will fly into Edinburgh Airport to begin their 10-year stay in Scotland.
The date was confirmed ahead of the Scottish First Minister's visit to China.
Alex Salmond said the pandas could expect ''the warmest of Scottish receptions''.
He said: ''I will be in China myself on the day they arrive, signing a cultural exchange agreement with the Chinese, and I am sure all Scotland will be delighted to welcome Tian Tian and Yang Guang with the warmest of Scottish receptions awaiting them.
''Having the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo is a considerable honour and will be a huge draw for visitors and will give a welcome boost to the economy and to tourism.
''Securing the loan of the pandas symbolises the great and growing friendship between Scotland and China and a testament to the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland's world-class reputation for research, science and conservation.
''It is a fantastic opportunity to further strengthen our business, cultural and diplomatic links with China and for people in Scotland.
''We particularly want our young people to learn more about pandas and we have an exciting education programme to bring alive the many wonderful learning opportunities offered by the pandas' 10-year stay in Scotland.''
Breeding pair Tian Tian - meaning ''sweetie'' - and Yang Guang - meaning ''sunlight'' - were born in 2003.
The animals will live in Edinburgh Zoo for 10 years under the care of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.
Gerald P. Leary of FedEx said: “It is a privilege to serve as the trusted carrier of these rare animals, and we are proud to support the preservation efforts of this endangered species.”
Currently, conservationists estimate that only 1,600 pandas remain in the wild. Both Tian Tian and Yang Guang are part of global giant panda conservation programs, designed to increase the panda population.
Onboard the Boeing 777F aircraft—which is solely dedicated to the pandas’ journey—Tian Tian and Yang Guang will travel in two custom-built transport containers provided by FedEx Express.
The pandas will fly from Chengdu Airport direct to Edinburgh Airport.
Hugh Roberts, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Zoo said: "The arrival of Tian Tian and Yang Guang is an historic occasion for Edinburgh Zoo. We have been looking forward to this moment for five years now, since the Zoo first embarked on this epic journey to bring giant pandas to Scotland.
"Our dedicated team has worked tirelessly to create a world-class enclosure to house our newest additions, which will offer visitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view these extraordinary animals.