Despite my reservations about exotic animals in enclosures and in Scotland of all places, I love Edinburgh Zoo. Being so close to such beasts is such a humbling and tender experience and they are absolutely fascinating to observe. Okay, so the masturbating monkey wasn’t quite what I had in mind, nor the final act of watching him wipe up the evidence and sucking it off his hand. No. Fluffy. Think of the fluffy.
Pandas. Everyone loves a panda, no? With those dark, morning after eyes and big cuddly arms I could imagine being fine chums with a panda, through the fence, of course. Their dark eyes present a melancholic, weary expression that hints at a sadness inside, and I want to cuddle it. Of course, this is coming from the person whose childhood teddy has a scratched eye (traumatic experience in a washing machine) that I can’t help but see as a tear, convincing me of his inner woes.
Yang Guang and Tian Tian arrived in Edinburgh in early December, ‘on loan’ from China, whatever that means. During our Grand Zoo Adventure poor Yang Guang was sick with colic so was off show, but thankfully a group of us were crammed into a small room to peer through the glass screen at Tian Tian, slumped over a rock and staring into space, eyes dull and sad (I interpret). It wasn’t the most pleasant experience of my visit – though the girl talking us through was great – and more like gawking than observing, but boy was she beautiful.
These pictures were taken (through a murky, finger-smeared window) a few days before she too was brought down by a touch of colic. Sad pandas. Yang Guang has nearly recovered and will be back on parade tomorrow though. What a job.