Went to Edinburgh Zoo today to see all the animals including the new arrivals Sunshine and Sweetie. Their Chinese names are Yang Guang and Tian Tian and they arrived at the Zoo from China in December 2011.
They are the only Giant Pandas in the UK so are a great attraction. However, as well as the Pandas, there are some lovely animals and birds to see.
We travelled on the ‘Panda Express’ which is a bus run by the Stagecoach Company and arrived at the Zoo at 11.15am. The bus is painted in Panda colours and is a modern double-decker complete with wifi. Using this bus allowed us to get a discount on the entry fee, which was an added bonus.
The Zoo is on a steep hill, but transport is available for those who prefer or are unable to walk. We walked on our visit today, as the sun was shining and it was a very pleasant spring day.
Some exotic long-legged birds such as the Stanley Crane caught our eye, looking similar to Heron, and some Ostriches. The bigger birds were outside, while some of the smaller birds were kept indoors with the heating on.
Some of the birds were kept in walk-through areas and it was good to see the birds flying around and not being afraid of people. I particularly liked the Cochin-Chinese red jungle fowl and the Bali starling.
The Cochin-Chinese red jungle fowl is related to the domestic chicken. The Bali Starling is the national bird of Bali and is a beautiful bird. It is an endangered species, but hopefully the birds in zoos will breed to prevent the species dying out.
After viewing the birds we went to see the Chimpanzees. Most of them were having a rest so we did not see any acrobatic displays today.
Giant Pandas – Sunshine and Sweetie
Next stop was to the Giant Pandas, Sunshine and Sweetie. Our appointment slot was 1.00pm so we made our way there in plenty of time to see them. Sunshine was having a snooze, but Sweetie had just woken up and was having a stretch when we arrived.
Both Pandas were indoors and had to be viewed through glass, but it was still great to see these gentle giants close-up.
The big cats were next and we managed to get a great view of some Amur Leopards and Jaguar. They were drawing a large crowd.
The hill was getting steeper and some visitors were finding it a struggle, but we fit folk managed to bound up it without too much effort. The Zebras were next and were found in the ‘African plains’ area created to look like Africa. It did look like Africa in the bright sunshine, except for two Black-headed Gulls which were swimming in the water. Do you get Black-headed Gulls in Africa?
The Zebra experience was very enjoyable, as a walkway had been created for visitors to get a good look at these graceful animals. I enjoyed this part of the visit very much.
We were now at the top of the Zoo area and were able to get some good views of the Pentland hills and Arthurs Seat in the distance.
The Penguin Parade was not on as the penguin enclosure is being maintained and the Penguins have been moved to a different area in the Zoo. We did see some Penguins in their temporary home and these were very popular with the visitors.
As you can see from the photograph below, there was a disagreement between two of the birds!
On the descent back to the entrance we saw some unusual animals such as the Eastern Bongo and the Painted Hunting dog. Both of these were good looking animals.
The Eastern Bongo is in severe decline in the wild, but the Zoo has a very good breeding program which should help.
Painted Hunting dog
The Painted Hunting Dog had very unusual markings and drew a large crowd. These are pack dogs which hunt medium size mammals such as Antelope and have a very powerful bite.
Steller’s Sea Eagles
Finally just before completing our visit we saw some Steller’s Sea Eagles. These were fine-looking black and white birds from Japan.
Before we left the Zoo we stopped at the shop to buy some Panda merchandise as a reminder of the visit. Then it was back on the Panda Express home.
It had been a good day out and we will be going back there to take a closer look at some of the animals again.
Further Information: http://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk
Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh EH12 6TS