Panda preparation as pair due to arrive on Sunday

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THEY’RE going to be a major attraction when they’ve settled in to their new home.

Scotland has been gifted two breeding pandas by the Chinese government after years of political and diplomatic talks and the pair will arrive on Sunday.

It has been a major part of Chinese tradition and history to give gifts of pandas to other nations.

Following Richard Nixon’s visit to China, the USA was given the animals and London Zoo also received them following a request by then-British prime minister Edward Heath.

All stops have been pulled out by staff at Edinburgh Zoo in preparation for Tian Tian and Yang Guang’s arrival with a new enclosure being built, special training for the zookeepers and stockpiling the animals’ favourite food – bamboo.

The move also marks an important development in international relations and puts Scotland in the spotlight on the world stage with co-operation with China on a range of environmental, cultural and commerce issues.

It will be a massive draw for the zoo with thousands expected to visit it to see the bears in their £250,000 enclosure which includes a swimming pool, kitchen and nursery – with the expectation that the pair will breed.

To celebrate their arrival, a special panda tartan has been commisioned which will be named the Gillespie tartan after Edinburgh lawyer Thomas Gillespie who founded the Royal Zoological Society of Edinburgh in 1909.

The colours for the tartan will be black and white (representing the pandas) with red for China and green to signify bamboo.

The Scottish government hopes the arrival will see other benefits such as the cultural, trade and education opportunities in the world’s fastest growing economy such as:

n Greater understanding of Chinese language and culture in Scotland.

n More students from Scotland going to China and vice versa.

n Attracting skilled Chinese to experience living and working in Scotland.

n Attracting more Chinese tourists to Scotland.

n Increasing trade between Scotland and China.

n Expanding connections between businesses in Scotland and China.

n Raising the profile and understanding of Scotland in China.

As Scotland makes a home for the pandas, various elements of Scots culture are already being enjoyed in China.

With a growing taste for whiskey, the Chinese are now among the biggest importers of our national drink and golf is one of the country’s fastest growing sports.