Tian Tian and Yang Guang have proved a sensation with visitors resulting in a 200% jump in visitor numbers – this is more than three times the number who visited the zoo during the same period last year.
Approximately 70,000 people have seen Edinburgh Zoo’s giant pandas since they arrived in Edinburgh from Ya’an reserve in Chengdu, China on December 4th and were available for visitors to see on December 16th, immediately proving a smash hit.
Edinburgh Zoo chief executive Hugh Roberts said: “We’ve been fully booked almost every day so far and expect the popularity of Tian Tian and Yang Guang to continue. Visitors’ faces have been amazing, both young and old. For the vast majority of people this is the first chance they’ve had in their lifetime to cast their eyes on a giant panda.”
Visitors don’t pay any extra to see the pandas but due to the enormous popularity of the pandas half hour time slots for 200 people at a time need to be reserved – this arrangement is being continued to at least the month of March to maximize the number of people able to enjoy the panda visit.
Mr Roberts added: “As well as being incredibly endangered and rarely seen outside China, they are an extremely cute and anthropomorphic animal.
“People are often amazed to see for themselves that pandas are quite happy to make eye contact and our visitors can learn lots of interesting facts from our panda patrols, like pandas eat a third of their bodyweight in food every day and the male pandas do their own version of a handstand to scent mark their territory.”
Edinburgh Zoo will be the pandas’ home over the coming 10 years and it is hoped the pair might produce cubs during their stay.
Visitors are not leaving Edinburgh zoo empty handed – the zoo shop has sold over 1,000 cuddly panda toys every week since the animals started receiving their adoring public.