Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Edinburgh Zoo pandas to be moved to new enclosure

Yang Guang Image copyright RZSS
Image caption Male panda Yang Guang is be moved, along with female Tian Tian, to a newly built habitat at a different location in the zoo

The pandas at Edinburgh Zoo are being moved to a new enclosure to be sheltered from construction noise as plans to build homes at a site next-door are set to be approved.

Planners have recommended proposals by Sundial Dundas to convert Corstorphine Hospital into housing be accepted.

It comes ahead of next week's council development management sub-committee.

Zoo bosses are building a new home for Tian Tian and Yang Guang in anticipation of the work going ahead.

The council has been ordered by the Scottish government to inform ministers if the plans are approved as concerns over the pandas "could raise issues of national importance".

If approved, the hospital plans will form 76 apartments - 30 in the original hospital building, which closed in 2014 - 24 apartments in two new extensions to the rear and 22 apartments in a new building to the south of the original hospital building.

The South Lodge will be converted to a community hub and management centre.

The plans have been recommended for approval by planning officers, despite failing to meet parking requirements.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Female panda Tian Tian arrived in Scotland, along with Yang Guang, from China in 2011

In a report to councillors, planning officers said: "The pandas are particularly vulnerable in terms of negative health impacts to noise and vibration during demolition and construction works and Edinburgh Zoo has raised concerns for the pandas' well-being.

"For this reason, Scottish ministers have issued a direction requiring the council to notify ministers if it intended to approve the application, given that concerns around the welfare of the pandas could raise issues of national importance.

"A condition has been attached based on an agreement reached between the applicant and zoo which gives comfort that the redevelopment will not progress before adequate measures are taken to ensure that the wellbeing of the pandas is safeguarded from the possible negative impacts of demolition and construction works.

"These measures will also cover any possible negative impacts on the health of other animals in close proximity to the development."

The pandas will now be moved away from the development site - with the construction of two new panda houses in the north east section of the zoo now under way.

'No disturbance'

A zoo spokeswoman said: "We have started work on a new giant panda habitat at an alternative location at the zoo.

"The new habitat will be on what is currently African Plains, with our nyala having moved to the old camel house, which has been modified for their needs.

"This relates to plans to redevelop the former Corstorphine Hospital next to the zoo and will mean there is no disturbance to our pandas from noise or vibrations from the building work."

She added: "Measures will also be put in place to protect our other animals close to the site.

"Visitors to the zoo can still see Tian Tian and Yang Guang in their current habitat while this work is taking place."

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