By Natalie Williams •
Published: 06 Dec 2021 • 21:45
Campaigners have called for political asylum to be granted for the UK’s only giant pandas. There are concerns over the safety of the pandas if they return to China.
Yang Guang and Tian Tian arrived at Edinburgh Zoo in 2011. Unfortunately, they have been unable to breed since they arrived. This has evoked fear as activists think the Chinese government will see them as “useless” at the end of their decade-long, £600,000-a-year lease deal.
The Giant pandas have been in the zoo for 10 years and came to Scotland to be part of a breeding program but have not been able to reproduce. This is why activities are now asking for political asylum for the pandas.
John Robins, of the charity Animal Concern, told The Scottish Sun: “I have real concerns that if they go back to China they could end up on the dissection table. “They are only of real value to the Chinese as a breeding couple.” He speculated “they would be opened up and assessed to find out why they failed to produce offspring”. He added: “It might be the only sensible thing is for the Scottish Government to give them political asylum and not send them back.” Mr Robins said the animals have “done nothing but suffer”.
The pandas, whose names in English translate as Sunshine and Sweetie, cost the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland £35,000 a month to maintain their well-being. The money is raised via charitable donations and income from the Zoo from entrance fees etc.
The zoo tried an alternative method to breed the couple, they castrated Yang Guang with the idea to artificially inseminate Tian Tian. Unfortunately, this procedure did not work, making the Giant pandas even more worthless in the eyes of China, giving more emphasis on the need to allow them political asylum.
RZSS chief exec David Field said: “We remain in discussions with our colleagues in China about Yang Guang and Tian Tian’s future at Edinburgh Zoo. We still hope to extend their stay and will keep everyone updated.”
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