Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Edinburgh Zoo Panda Safety Scare

16 August 2017

Categories: Homepage News, Bears Campaign News, Zoo Check Campaign News

Reports have emerged that a keeper at Edinburgh Zoo was forced to escape from an indoor enclosure just moments after one of the Zoo’s giant pandas was accidentally let back in. It has also been claimed that this security failure could have led to the Zoo’s male panda ‘Yang Guang’ escaping into a public area.

The concerning incident apparently occurred in 2016, but has only just come to light following a leak by an unnamed source, believed to be a Zoo employee. Despite allegations of a ‘cover up’ and rumours of the incident reportedly being dismissed by Zoo bosses as ‘unfounded’, the release of a photo appearing to show the incident occurring has forced the Zoo to make a statement.

Edinburgh Council, which licenses the Zoo, has also confirmed that the incident took place and that the Zoo had since "revised its procedures”.

While on this occasion the keeper apparently escaped without injury and the panda did not escape, Born Free is very concerned that this incident could have ended very differently: there have been several tragic incidents in British zoos in recent years where keepers have been killed by large carnivores or animals have escaped and been killed, and we are calling for a review of the zoo licensing and inspection process, in order to minimise the risks to people and animals in zoos.

Two giant pandas Yang Guang and Tian Tian arrived at Edinburgh Zoo in 2011, on loan from China, with the aim of breeding cubs. Despite extensive media coverage reporting mating and artificial insemination attempts over the years, there has yet to be any confirmed pregnancies. Born Free is convinced that the answer to giant panda conservation lies in the protection of the remaining habitat in their native China, and not in exhibiting these wonderful animals in captivity in zoos across the world.

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