Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Panda Express

This is FedEx's Panda Express taxiing at Edinburgh Airport earlier today.  It flew in from China carrying the two Giant Pandas who will call Edinburgh Zoo their home for the next 10 years.  The plane itself is not one that would usually land at Edinburgh (a Boeing 777F) and that in itself drew people in to see it.  Its unusual livery and rather exceptional cargo drew crowds of people and hoards of press in to catch the first glimpse of an animal that has created more excitement than any other in the UK in years.  I didn't for a minute think that I would see the Pandas.  I wanted to see the plane in its cool livery and, well I like planes, so the thought of seeing something that was a rare sight in Edinburgh was a little exciting too.  As it turned out, we found a spot where we could actually see the plane sat on the tarmac, and from not too far away either.  They spent a lot of time hanging about - probably doing press conferences and checks and all sorts - during which time the majority of us were trying to make sure our fingers didn't freeze to camera lenses, chain link fences, etc.  Eventually a door opened in the side of the plane,
near the tail and the first crate was brought out.  I could, through my zoom lens, make out that there was something in the crate, but not much more.  However, Yang Guang in the second crate was much more active and I could see him moving around and watching through the perspex walls (yes, I promise that is a Panda face!).  This is hardly the best picture ever - from a great distance and with heat haze from a generator causing a disturbance - but I got to see Yang Guang in the flesh before the vast majority of people in the country!  Maybe not the most awesome claim to fame ever, but I'm very pleased about it.  Some time later they were finally all loaded up and ready to go.  Once the press and dignitaries were shipped off to the zoo to see their arrival there, Tian Tian and Yang Guang were off again, this time in Panda branded lorries!  It's safe to say that they don't travel discreetly.  And I can't wait to see them properly.  There will be a few member preview days at the zoo from the 13th to the 15th of December and I have my ticket booked to go visit on the Tuesday the 13th.  If it's not too busy I might try and get back on the Thursday too!  Working part time definitely has it's advantages ;-)

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