The pandas came to Scotland 12 years ago after China decided to loan Yang Guan and Tian Tian to the UK. The lease was signed for ten years with the possibility of extension and in return Edinburgh Zoo paid an annual fee of around ten million kroner to China.
The contract was extended for two years Due to the epidemic, but Beijing has now decided to return the pandas to their home in China. On Thursday, the British public were able to visit Yang Guan and Tian Tian for the last time, and after the closure, the staff were also able to bid farewell to the pandas.
– Many of us felt anxious and nervous before this day, and now we feel sad. Many of us have known them for as long as they have been here,” animal keeper Michael Livingstone said BBC.
The China Animal Welfare Association announced that the country is ready to welcome Yang Guan and Tian Tian back to the country. Initially, they will spend a month in quarantine before being released into a panda reserve in Sichuan province.
Pandas are the latest who had to leave the West recently. New Zealand, Japan and the Netherlands were forced to return the pandas after their leases expired. The last American pandas will return to China next year, as well as Australia.
This new trend is seen as a result of tense relations between China and the West, and experts wonder if this is the end of so-called panda diplomacy – where pandas are introduced to countries that have done something appreciated by China.
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