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Edinburgh Zoo giant pandas heading back to China


The 2 pandas will return home early December

Yang Guang (Image courtesy of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland)

Yang Guang (Image courtesy of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland)

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) announced that Yang Guang and Tian Tian, 2 giant pandas at the Edinburgh Zoo, will return to China this December. The duo is heading home now that the agreement between RZSS and the China Wildlife Conservation Association comes to an end.

“With more than a million species at risk of extinction and our natural world in crisis, Yang Guang and Tian have had an incredible impact by inspiring millions of people to care about nature…Through scientific research alongside the University of Edinburgh, we have also made a significant contribution to our understanding of giant pandas, which will be of real benefit to efforts to protect this amazing species in China,” expressed David Field, RZSS chief executive, in an organizational release.1

According to the release,1 Yang Guang and Tian Tian came to the Zoo in December 2011 after as part of the agreement, but it was extended 2 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of right now, the date that the pair will depart back to China has not been finalized. However, the zoo will provide opportunities for the public to say goodbye and will close indoor viewing of their enclosure and the end of November. Their habitat will be home to a new species that the RZSS can support in the wild, but that species is not being disclosed until next year.

“We are making arrangements with our partners in China for Yang Guang and Tian Tian to return in early December, possibly during the first week…Visitors to the zoo can expect to see them indoors and outside until the end of November, after which viewing will be outdoors only until they leave,” explained Alison Maclean, carnivore team leader at the Zoo, “Having cared for Yang Guang and Tian Tian since they arrived in 2011, I will be traveling back to China with them, to help them settle into their new homes.”

Yang Guang, the male panda whose name means Sunshine in Mandarin, and Tian Tian, the female panda whose name means sweetie were both born in August 2023. Giant Pandas have a diet that consists of 99% of bamboo with Yang Guang being able to eat up to 100kg of bamboo every day.2 Yang Guang and Tian Tian are currently the only giant pandas that live in the United Kingdom.


  1. Edinburgh Zoo’s giant pandas to return home in early December. News release. The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. September 4, 2023. Accessed September 6, 2023. https://www.rzss.org.uk/media-centre/article/22158/edinburgh-zoo-s-giant-pandas-to-return-home-in-early-december/
  2. Giant panda. Edinburgh Zoo. Accessed September 6, 2023. https://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/animals-and-experiences/animals/giant-panda/
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