Betting On A Panda Love In At Edingburgh Zoo
It’s chilly this winter in Edinburgh, Scotland and visitors to Edinburgh Zoo have a long nippy trek up the hill to see their favourite animal attractions. But the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, the charity owners of the zoo, is confident of a warm welcome for the pair of pandas likely to arrive in the next few weeks. Tian Tian and Yang Guang – Sweetie and Sunshine – represent a major conservation and commercial coup for Edinburgh Zoo.
The zoo’s main customer base is Scottish, with significant numbers of North East of England residents also. However, Edinburgh Zoo is not currently on the to-do list of Edinburgh’s European visitors, only 2% of whom come to the attraction. This is set to change as Scotland will be one of only six countries in the western world with pandas on site, the others being the USA, Mexico, Austria, Spain and Germany.
In anticipation, Edinburgh Zoo has spent £300,000 on a new enclosure with bullet proof glass, a climbing frame and a panda kitchen. Bamboo will be imported from the Netherlands to feed the pandas at the significant annual cost of £70,000. But the rewards will be enormous. In addition to its expected contribution to the captive breeding programme which numbers 200 pandas in total, the zoo anticipates that its visitor numbers will double to more than one million visitors each year for the 4 or 5 year duration of the pandas’ stay. The Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce estimates that the two pandas could generate £100 million for the Scottish economy during these years. Major advertising campaigns from the zoo itself and VisitScotland are expected but the news media will generate much of the public awareness of the pandas’ arrival.
With only an estimated 2,000 pandas left in the wild, this endangered species is in a perilous state. Edinburgh Zoo hope that Sweetie and Sunshine will successfully breed during their tenure at the zoo and keepers have been working hard to secure the correct conditions to make this happen. Pandas are notoriously difficult creatures, however, and the female panda is only fertile for one day a year. Bookmaker William Hill offers customers a most unusual bet. It offers betting odds of 8/1 that Sweetie and Sunshine will produce a panda cub by the end of 2012. It’s a bit different from betting on William and Kate! Fingers crossed...
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