Letter: The problem with pandas

TOM Peterkin ends his article about Edinburgh Zoo and the two pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, with “It is hoped that they will breed when they reach Scotland” (News, 27 November).

No one who genuinely cares about pandas hopes that these two pandas will breed, when any baby panda will be condemned, like her/his parents, to live in captivity.

Zoos should be phased out, instead of having still more animals brought in. Bringing in cute-looking animals has nothing to do with conservation, irrespective of what zoo staff may claim. These pandas will never be released into the wild. It is all about attracting new visitors and so making more money. The zoo may claim that they will be giving money to help conservation in the wild, but those who want to support animals in the wild can and should donate direct to the charities who protect animals in the wild, not through the zoo.

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In the issue dated 4 December, the leader headlined “Pandamonium” finishes with the words “let’s enjoy their stay with us”, but what is much more important is how will the pandas find their stay with us; that should be our main concern. It is safe to say that “enjoy” is not an appropriate word to use from the pandas’ point of view. Things hardly got off to the best start when, already suffering stress from the journey, they were subjected to the din of bagpipes at the airport and the cheers and screams of a mob that had gathered outside the zoo to “welcome” them. Such a welcome was not in the best interests of the pandas.

Sandra Busell, Edinburgh

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