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The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) announced today that it has been working with officials in China to bring a breeding pair of giant pandas to Edinburgh Zoo. If successful, Edinburgh would be only the 8th zoo in the Western hemisphere to care for this enigmatic and endangered species. It has been proposed that the pair will be on loan to RZSS for 10 years, in which time they would hopefully give birth to cubs.
Zoo representatives visited China recently with a view to establishing a closer relationship with the Chinese in the field of conservation and associated research. It was during this visit that a Letter of Intent was signed by both parties. This document signifies an initial commitment to bring giant pandas to Edinburgh Zoo.
The population of giant pandas in the wild is currently around 1500. While this is still far too low, the population is being sustained due to research being carried out by selected zoos across the world. At the Wolong Research Centre, a reserve for giant pandas in the Sichuan Province, the success rate of their breeding programme has improved significantly following various research programmes carried out by zoos. As part of an eventual formal agreement with the Chinese Government, Edinburgh Zoo will collaborate on research projects benefiting conservation in the wild. In addition to sharing research with Chinese conservationists, RZSS will also be providing substantial funding to support giant panda conservation projects in the wild.
David Windmill, Chief Executive of RZSS, said:
“Working with giant pandas means so much more to us than introducing a new species to our collection. It is an opportunity to work on a global level with other conservationists to gain a better understanding of the giant panda, the threats they face, and what we can do to ensure their survival.
We have been working on this for nearly a year and, having just returned from China, we are now in the position where we can publicly announce our intention to care for giant pandas. We hope to have giant pandas in Edinburgh Zoo in the near future. However, this will be a long process and there are still many details to be ironed out. We have received strong support from both UK and Scottish Governments for this initiative. It is essential this continues if we are to reach agreement with the Chinese.”
for further info and giant panda images
Maxine Finlay, Communications Officer 0131 314 0312
About giant pandas -
- Giant pandas live in a few mountain ranges in central China, in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. They once lived in lowland areas, but farming, forest clearing, and other development now restrict giant pandas to the mountains.
- Giant pandas live in broadleaf and coniferous forests, at elevations between 5,000 and 10,000 feet.
- About the size of an American black bear, giant pandas stand between two and three feet tall at the shoulder (on all four legs), and reach four to six feet long. Males are larger than females, weighing up to 250 pounds. Females rarely reach 220 pounds.
- The giant panda is listed as endangered in the World Conservation Union's (IUCN's) Red List of Threatened Animals.
- A wild giant panda’s diet is almost exclusively (99 percent) bamboo.
- Giant pandas reach breeding maturity between four and eight years of age. They may be reproductive until about age 20. Female pandas ovulate only once a year, in the spring. A short period of two to three days around ovulation is the only time she is able to conceive
- Edinburgh Zoo will be the 8th zoo in the Western hemisphere to have giant pandas. There are four zoos in North America that currently house them, with others in Mexico City, Berlin, Vienna and Madrid.
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