How is Edinburgh Zoo transporting two giant pandas?
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How is Edinburgh Zoo transporting two giant pandas?

Two giant pandas leave Edinburgh Zoo later, heading back to China at the end of their 12-year loan.

For years, the zoo has known Yang Guang and Tian Tian would be sent home and prepared accordingly.

The initial 10-year loan was extended by two years. Now the 20-year-old pandas, who have become a major tourist attraction, will move to Sichuan.

Darren McGarry, head of living collections at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), which operates the zoo, says there are many logistics involved.

In order to send the pandas safely to the China Wildlife Conservation Association base in Chengdu, it has taken a long time to make complex arrangements.

As agreed with the UK and Chinese governments, Mr McGarry says the pair has been in quarantine for several weeks.

A regular vet check, including blood and faecal sampling, is performed on pandas to ensure their health.

It has taken them a while to get used to their new crates, built by the zoo’s blacksmith, Rab Clark, for their flight to China.

To allow the keepers to check on them during the flight, he has constructed two custom metal crates that feature sliding padlock doors, pee trays, and removable screens.

Keepingers tell me what they’re looking for, and we work together to determine what’s best for the animals, Clark says.

Each crate measures 190 cm long, 146 cm high, and 127 cm wide – or roughly 6 ft by 5 ft by 4 ft.

“Despite looking small,” Mr Clark says, “there’s quite a bit of room inside, it’s not crowded.”

The pandas will be transported to Edinburgh Airport on a low-loader transporter.