FEATURE – Visiting the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo

How to visit the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo

Giant pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang moved to Edinburgh Zoo in December 2011.

Tian Tian (meaning sweetie) and Yang Guang (meaning sunshine) have been seen by over 100,000 visitors so far. Due to their overwhelming popularity, the zoo has an appointment system in place to visit the pandas.

Book your panda visit in advance

There is a detailed page on the zoo’s website explaining how to book your panda tickets. It doesn’t cost anything extra to see the pandas, but you should book your panda viewing slot in advance  of your visit. At the time of writing, the zoo is currently taking bookings up to the 30th June 2012. Slots for the school holidays and beyond will be released in due course.

If you are a RZSS member, you still need to reserve a time slot to see the pandas and can do this via the members forum.

There are a limited amount of tickets for viewing the pandas for those that turn up on the day. Choosing this way will not guarantee you get to see them, but if you are visiting them at the last moment, make sure you arrive very early and be first in the queue.

Photo gallery

Visiting the pandas

We booked our time slot for early on a Monday morning and attended at the zoo with our printed copy (smart phone/ tablet pictures are not allowed).  We arrived in plenty of time to get to the panda enclosure before our 10am ‘appointment’.

Along with a group of 40 or so people, we were ushered towards the enclosure and given a briefing on seeing the pandas and it was explained to us that flash photography is not allowed and would be strictly enforced.

As we entered the indoor enclosures (where both the pandas were at the time of our visit), we could see Yang Guang sleeping in his enclosure and Tian Tian munching on kilos of bamboo in her enclosure.

If the pandas are outside when entering this part of the experience, you are swiftly moved on to view them in their outdoor enclosure. Because both of the pandas were indoors when we visited, we spent around 8 minutes inside, while a staff member told us more about Yang Guang and Tian Tian.

There were lots of excited children (and adults) trying to see the pandas up close, so we didn’t hear everything that we were being told, but there are lots of information boards to learn about the background of Edinburgh’s cutest residents.

The next panda group was due in, so we had the choice to leave the panda area entirely, or continue to the see the outdoor enclosure and hear more about the black and white creatures from the zoo staff.

There’s certainly more room as you look at their outdoor area.  Had one of the pandas been there at the time, then everyone in the group would get a clear view.

Where you see the pandas is all down to luck on the day, but you are guaranteed to see at least one (except due to illness or special circumstances). Viewing them outdoors is definitely preferable to obtain a clearer view.

Yang Guang was snoozing when we left and looking at the panda cam a few hours later, it looked like he hadn’t moved an inch since we visited.

When leaving the zoo, there is a wide selection of panda memorabilia in the gift shop so you can have memories of ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Sweetie’ until your next visit.


Edinburgh Zoo fully embraces the world of social media. You can follow them on twitter @EdinburghZoo and like them on Facebook. They have a popular YouTube channel and a panda cam.

Opening hours: April – September 9am – 6pm, October and March 9am – 5pm, December – February 9am – 4.30pm.

Address: 134 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh, EH12 6TS.  Telephone:0131 334 9171.

There are several ways you can get to Edinburgh Zoo.

Suitable for disabled? Despite the Zoo being on a steep slope, it is still suitable for visitors with disabilities. Read the Zoo’s information and suggested routes.

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