Posted by: christinelaennec | May 3, 2012

A ticket to Edinburgh Zoo “with panda viewing”

(This is the last installment of our Easter trip – strange to think we’ve been home for weeks now!)

I don’t know how you feel about zoos, but we enjoy going to Edinburgh Zoo.  The animals are well-cared for, and now there is even a pair of pandas!  (The money raised by the visitors to the pandas is helping fund improvements to their native environments.) On our way home from England at Easter, we stayed overnight at the hotel next door to the zoo.  The hotel was very full, including with several busloads of Chinese tourists who were keen to see the pandas their country had lent ours.  After a very enjoyable breakfast, we met up with Our Son [that seems to be his blog name!], and began our morning at the zoo.  The zoo is on a hill.  You can take a kind of bus up to the top and walk down, but as we had to be at the panda enclosure at 11 a.m. sharp, we decided just to go part of the way up.  It was nice to have help pushing the Dafter in her wheelchair:

The zoo is on a hill! We have a laugh pushing the Dafter up, up, up…

Here is a baby pygmy hippo [not rhino! see comment below] and its mother, both having a watery snooze:

Having a wee kip: pygmy hippos at Edinburgh Zoo.

I liked this wallaby taking advantage of the view out over to the Pentland Hills:

A thoughtful wallaby (on the right by the fencing) contemplating the view, Edinburgh Zoo.

We were pleased to see the lions, who looked like larger versions of Tilly to us:

Mr. & Mrs. Lion having a morning snooze, Edinburgh Zoo

The leopard, though, was pacing back and forth in its enclosure.  It was hard to get a good photograph, it was moving so quickly:

A leopard, pacing. Edinburgh Zoo.

The tiger was munching on some greenery:

Siberian tiger having elevenses at Edinburgh zoo.

We arrived at the appointed time to see the pandas.  A small group of us were ushered into this beautifully planted and decorated area:

Entrance to the Giant Pandas’ enclosure, Edinburgh Zoo.

We were lucky that one of the pandas, Tian Tian (“Sweetie”), was on view.  She too was having a nap.  Female pandas are only fertile one or two days a year.  The previous week had been the propitious time for her, but she and Yang Guang (“Sunshine”) hadn’t mated.  However, we were told that all the signs had been good, and the zoo is hopeful for next year.  Sweetie has already been a mother, to twins, and she was a very good mother to them.  Our guide explained that baby pandas are extremely small – he made the comparison to humans giving birth to babies the size of our thumb.  (Might be more comfortable to give birth, I hear some of you thinking!)  Panda mothers keep their babies in their armpits for the first few weeks, and have to mother them very intensively.

Here’s me with my two:

me, Our Son and the Dafter, having a happy time at Edinburgh Zoo.

It’s quite something to think that Our Son came to us nearly 16 years ago now.  He was almost four, and quite a lot bigger than my thumb at that point, but in need of some intensive parenting as well.  We said goodbye to the dozing Tian Tian and went for a coffee.  It was warm enough to be outside!

Brother and sister, Edinburgh Zoo, April 2012.

And the Dafter insists that I post this photo of us fooling around:

Scary creatures at the zoo!

Well, I haven’t much pride! (Joke!)



  1. What a grand day out you all had, this is a lovely post Christine, it’s really nice to see the whole family together. I’ve had many happy visits to Edinburgh Zoo, although not to see the pandas. I’m glad you got to see one of them. Much as I do love to see the animals I am sad to see some of them in cages. It’s a tricky one, isn’t it, because the zoo does good work and the animals are well looked after, but some of them don’t seem too happy there. I did a course at Edinburgh Zoo once while I was unemployed (the council paid for it since I wasn’t earning, which was great) and I really enjoyed all the lectures.

  2. You all look so happy at your day in the zoo! I had heard about the Panda’s in your zoo on our news (It’s a small world) and how much they hoped there would be some little ones,- too bad for this year. It does look like a lovely zoo. I haven’t been to one in so many years… the last time when a relative with a young child came to visit. I like the pygmy rhino’s, I don’t think I have ever seen them before. Sad about the leopard pacing….

    I like the ‘scary creatures’ at the end of your post. It’s nice to see the Dafter having a little fun! xx

  3. Edinburgh zoo is definitely one of the better ones. We visited it a few years ago. Like you, I have mixed feelings about it. Loved the pic of you and Dafter being silly. My daughter and I have ones like that, lol! My two are 22 and 19 now and I have no idea where the time went. xx

  4. Despite three of my four daughters living in Edinburgh I have not visited the zoo. So glad you enjoyed it en famille.
    Did you come home with a toy panda?! My grandson did and thought more of that than the real thing….

  5. There really is nothing quite so squeal inducing as a panda, is there?

  6. what a wonderful day out for you and your family. I had no idea that the zoo was so hilly and had such an amazing view of the city. thank for the lovely pictures of your family.

  7. Thanks for all the comments!

    Lorna, Karen and Tina, yes, it is sad to see the animals pacing, but I think well-run zoos are a good thing overall.

    Karen and Tina, I’m glad you liked the silly photo. Life is too short not to be silly, as you say!

    Jill, I would recommend a visit, especially if you have littles to take with you. There’s a huge playarea and you can take a picnic in with you as well. We came home with some panda souvenirs but no toy pandas.

    ajb, yes the whole thing is on quite a steep hill, and it is beautifully planted and maintained. Glad you liked the family snaps!

    Relyn, I think my daughter would suggest a certain boy band (The Wanted) as being EVEN more squeal-inducing than a panda!

  8. Pacing is a sign of stress in captive animals. I don’t understand how you can think “zoos are a good thing overall” – obviously you think it’s alright to stand and gaze at captive animals who are far from their own environment and suffering stress, otherwise you wouldn’t have gone. Wild animals travel miles in their own habitat, no wonder the leopard was pacing. How many humans does a wild leopard see in it’s own habitat?
    While people like you continue to visit zoos they will continue to exist, prolonging suffering for animals.
    You may not like this comment but you should take off the blinkers and realise what those animals are going through for your enjoyment.

    • Dear Jennie,

      Thank you for your heartfelt comment. Our family’s discussions on the topic have led us to conclude that we want to support the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland in their work of conservation and protection of endangered species. The animals at Edinburgh zoo seem well cared-for and as I understand it, pacing is not necessarily a sign of stress but can be anticipation of feeding time, for example.

      However, if we are wrong then I hope God and the animals will forgive us.

      • Whilst it may make you feel better to believe that it could be in anticipation of feeding time you’re wrong. Pacing is a stereotypic behaviour induced by stress.
        There are websites to give more information on the distress caused to captive wild animals if you would care to read more about it. Google “captive animals pacing” if you still think you’re right.
        Conservation and protection of animals in their OWN HABITAT is to be commended, removing them from that habitat to something totally alien to them is not. Preventing them from roaming naturally in their normal group size is not to be commended. To be imprisioned for the gratifcation of onlookers is not to be commended. By continuing to support zoos you are continuing torture for animals.

  9. My son read this and said, “I didn’t know there were Pandas is Scotland!”

    When my sister lived in the D.C. area, I visited the National Zoo many, many times and never got a good look at a Panda. Glad your family did.

  10. Looks like it was a fantastic family day…. and pandas are so adorable, loved seeing the pictures 🙂

  11. Thank you, as always, for providing enjoyable reading fodder.I’m glad to see that my own family is not the only one who makes faces at the camera. I did notice though that the pigmy rhinos seem to be pigmy hippos, as they have no horns (that I can see from the photo) and seem to lie in a water habitat (rhinos like savannah habitats). Either way they are adorable.

    Fancy pandas keeping their babies in the armpit! It’s an interesting fact that can be used for a quirky ice breaker 🙂

    • slowlifecuppa, you are so right, they are indeed pigmy hippos! Thank you for pointing that out to me. I do know the difference… I like the idea of using the panda-baby-in-armpit fact as an ice-breaker! Or conversation stopper? Thanks for keeping me straight.

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