The withdrawal of Yang Guang (Sunshine) from public view with a bout of colic, just weeks after his long flight from China with Tian Tian (Sweetie) as part of a controversial ‘rent a panda’ programme, is a cause for concern we all share but must be of particular worry for the powers that be at Edinburgh Zoo.
Should anything more serious happen to the animals at the centre of this ill-advised scheme then the future of the zoo could be in doubt.
With 10 years costs of more than £7 million pounds (what could that do for wildlife conservation and habitat protection around the world) and no guarantee that visitor numbers will receive a desperately-needed boost (they were down by 15% in the last reported year), the zoo may yet rue the day.
Few zoos that have rented pandas in this way report a happy experience, either from a visitor number or financial point of view.
Our immediate concerns must be for Yang Guang’s welfare. Is his painful discomfort a result of the change in climate, the new food supply, heightened levels of stress? More fundamentally, why was this project ever undertaken in the first place?
PS You may have seen the BBC Natural World documentary highlighting the plight of the slow loris following a viral video on Youtube. It seems the video is fuelling the illegal pet trade and putting the endangered species at risk.
There is a petition calling for Youtube to remove the video here