Amid the gloom of winter Edinburgh Zoo has provided a ray of sunshine with the announcement it has agreed a deal to bring two giant pandas to the United Kingdom.
Tian Tian and Yangguang are expected to arrive at the zoo in the next few months following a deal with the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS).
The coup is the result of five years of political and diplomatic negotiations at the highest level, with a deal signed earlier today at Lancaster House in London by RZSS chairman Donald Emslie.
Deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, and vice premier of China, Li Keqiang, were on hand to witness the historic event.
Speaking about the gift, chief executive officer of RZSS, David Windmill, said: “This is a landmark day for RZSS, Edinburgh Zoo, the UK and China.
“It represents the beginning of a programme of research, education and partnership and the project has huge benefit for the UK and Scotland, both in supporting giant panda conservation and in enhancing our programmes in education, science and conservation.”
The pandas – born in 2003 - will be the first to reside in the UK for 17 years.
His Excellency Liu Xiaoming, ambassador of China to the UK said: “Pandas are a Chinese national treasure.
“This historical agreement is a gift to the people of the UK from China.
“It will represent an important symbol of our friendship and will bring our two people closer together.”
The RZSS worked in close partnership with the UK, Chinese and Scottish governments, the CWCA and Wolong Panda Breeding Centre in Sichuan Province to facilitate this project and provide mutual support.
The Giant Panda Project will be funded through sponsorship, offering unparalleled opportunities in terms of international corporate, commercial and diplomatic relationships between China and the UK.
Speaking about the arrangements for the giant pandas, director of animals, conservation and education as Edinburgh Zoo, Iain Valentine, commented: “This marks the start of a long relationship with CWCA in which we hope to bring the expertise that exists with RZSS and within the UK to the conservation efforts of the captive and wild populations of giant pandas.
“These wonderful animals will be housed in a specially refurbished enclosure which was formerly home to our gorillas.
“The enclosure will offer a good mix of comfort and visibility so the public can see the couple as they settle into their new home. We are looking forward to welcoming a delegation from the CWCA to Edinburgh later this week to view the Zoo and discuss our plans in detail.”
Also in Scotland today, City.Mobi is celebrating the success of its new city guide to Edinburgh.
City.Mobi offers the most comprehensive mobile travel guides available, with over 800 cities in 200 countries listed. Each is developed by the City.Mobi team to combine into a single global travel directory.
Edinburgh.Mobi is the latest in this illustrious line up, offering click to call functionality – which means no scribbling down telephone numbers.
Most entries are also linked to websites where users can quickly access more detailed information if needed.
Other key features include information on accommodation, restaurants, attractions, entertainment, nightlife, shopping, and transport.
City.Mobi guides include user reviews and traveller utilities such as a translation guide, currency converter, news and local weather guide.