Emma Cowing: Oi, keeper, where’s the Harvey Nicks?

YESTERDAY I got a call from Edinburgh Zoo: Tian Tian the female panda has been keeping a diary, and would like to share it with readers of The Scotsman. How could we refuse? Here are some exclusive extracts …


Can you believe they didn’t fly us first class? Instead it was 11 hours of “would you like some more panda cake, ma’am” (not really, it’s made of apples and carrots, not exactly the world’s greatest flavour combination) while I sat inside an uncomfortable 4ft-high box staring at that great lump Yuang Guang. I’m sure he winked at me at one point and muttered something about a mile-high club, but I ignored him. If you ask other female pandas they’ll tell you the same thing: we’re feminists. We don’t need some male panda peeling our bamboo for us. We’d rather do it ourselves.

I was hugely disappointed there was no inflight movie – I’ve so been looking forward to Kung Fu Panda 2 – but was slightly cheered to hear we were off to Edinburgh. Apparently there’s a Harvey Nichols.

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We finally arrived around lunchtime. There was an awful lot of cheering, and some bizarre noise that sounded like a red panda being strangled. I heard someone say it came from something called a set of bagpipes, presumably because whoever is playing them has a bag over their head. A small lady named Nicola was there to meet us. She seemed very excited, and asked us where we stood on devo-max. I would have told her I thought the backing of full fiscal autonomy within the UK as an alternative to full independence for Scotland was a clever device to camouflage a humiliating defeat for independence in the event of a referendum, but to be honest I was too jetlagged, so instead I merely raised a paw and yawned. A penguin later told me this was the correct response.


They drink something called Irn-Bru here. I’m more of a Panda Cola girl myself, but when in Corstorphine I suppose. My keepers have been making a big noise about how I’m going to eat 9,000kg of bamboo this year. Honestly. As if a girl isn’t conscious enough of her waistline as it is, without having her diet splashed all over the media. And that’s not all. The newspapers have reported some highly personal details. One zoo official was quoted as describing me as “highly strung”. The cheek! I’ve a good mind to contact the Leveson Inquiry.

I’ve been having a look around our new digs. They’re quite classy – reminiscent of some of the earlier Frank Lloyd Wright designs. There’s a pool, a cave and a kitchen, and I can’t tell you how relieved I was to discover I don’t have to share a room with that Yuang Guang character. I was nibbling on some panda cake earlier and I swear I heard him humming Strangers in the Night over the wall. Well, that’s the way it will stay, if I’ve got anything to do with it.

If the keepers get their way however, it won’t be long before they start forcing us out on dates. Don’t think I didn’t notice the big padded room with the “Love Tunnel” sign above it. Really. There’s just so much pressure to produce an heir. This must be what Kate Middleton feels like.


There has been a lot of gossip in the zoo about myself and Yuang Guang since we arrived. The penguins think we’re going to steal their thunder, although I have assured them I have absolutely no intention of parading around the place on an hourly basis. And some of the other animals (the chimps, in particular, I hear) are jealous we’re kept behind bullet-proof glass. If I hear one more “eats shoots and leaves” joke it’ll put me off my bamboo.

Some of the other animals have been quite friendly. The sunbears have invited me over for a swim in their pool, and the koalas keep trying to give me a cuddle. It’s a bear thing.

The keepers talk about us going “on display”. I puzzled over this for ages until I realised: we’re going to see the window displays at Harvey Nichols. I can’t wait. I’ll get some Touche Eclat concealer for these dark circles under my eyes, and I then I’ll treat myself to some deep- fried bamboo shoots and perhaps a Panda Cola cocktail at the Forth Floor Restaurant. Taxi!