IT’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to greet the giant pandas as they touch down at their new home this weekend.
The Evening News is exclusively offering a lucky youngster the chance to be on the tarmac when Tian Tian and Yang Guang arrive to start their ten-year stay at Edinburgh Zoo.
The winner – along with their mum or dad – could be amongst a handful of those to catch a glimpse of the creatures at Edinburgh Airport before a two week settling-in period.
And 50 runners-up, along with their families, will be able to join the official welcome for the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo on Sunday.
In order to take part we are asking primary school children to tell us in up to 50 words why they think the pandas’ arrival is good for the Capital
As well as being at the heart of the welcome ceremony, the winning child will also get membership to the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland for 12 months, and will be invited back to the zoo to be among the first people to see the animals when they go on show.
All the runners-up will get free entry to the Zoo on the day, as well as panda jackets, hats and toys.
Entrants must have a valid passport and applications need to be in by midnight tomorrow night.
Hugh Roberts, chief executive of Edinburgh Zoo, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for one lucky child. I won’t give too much away, but it will be a symbolic Scottish welcome with this young person right at the heart.”
The news of the arrival on December 4 spread across the globe yesterday, with the zoo’s online booking system crashing temporarily due to demand.
Their arrival from the Giant Panda Conservation and Research Centre in Sichuan Province follows years of negotiations. They are the first to live in the UK for 17 years.
After they arrive – on the specially chartered FedEx Panda Express – Tian Tian and Yang Guang will spend two weeks getting used to their new home before visitors are allowed into the new enclosure on December 16.
The zoo said there was no guarantee the lucky winner will see the pandas before they are whisked off, but they might catch a glimpse.
Alex Salmond said the pandas could expect “the warmest of Scottish receptions”.
He said: “I will be in China myself on the day they arrive, signing a cultural exchange agreement with the Chinese, and I am sure all Scotland will be delighted to welcome Tian Tian and Yang Guang.”
HOW TO ENTER
A special email address - firstname.lastname@example.org - has been set up to collect entries which must be received by midnight tomorrow. Entries must include the child’s full name, age, a contact phone number for the parent/guardian and a contact email address.