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WORLDWIDEPANDAMONIUM PANDAS Sweetie and By STEPHEN STEWART; FANS FLOCK TO BLACK AND WHITE BEARS.

Byline: STEPHEN STEWART

PANDAS Sweetie and Sunshine are about to become animal superstars when they arrrive in Scotland.

But their black and white buddies have already proved smash hits around the world.

And writers in Berlin, Memphis and San Diego say the Chinese bears' popularity has endured long after the initial excitement has died down.

Le Le and Ya Ya have become familiar faces to the crowds visiting their specially designed habitat - called the China Exhibit - following their arrival at Memphis Zoo in April 2003.

Bruce VanWyngarden, editor of the Memphis Flyer newspaper, said the pandas are a huge draw.

He said: "The pandas are still a stellar attraction and the zoo here is world-class. They are very popular and still draw in the crowds all year.

"There has been no problem with them settling in and they are now firmly established as a visitor attraction. They came here around eight years ago and have certainly made a lot of friends. There was a real sense of panda-mania at the time. They were all over the news initially but that has died down. They have grasped the public's imagination and there are a lot of exhibits about the pandas.

"There has been no real controversy about the pandas. No one was upset about them coming to Memphis Zoo. The initial mania was silly but that dies down eventually.

It is the "Some groups are never going to be happy with the concept of zoos but what's not to like about pandas?" Across on the west coast, San Diego Zoo is home to three giant pandas - Bai Yun, Gao Gao and Yun Zi. they On August 21, 1999, Bai Yun gave birth to Hua Mei, the first giant panda born in North America to survive to adulthood.

Millions of people around the world watched Hua Mei grow up via the Zoo's Panda Cam before she was moved back to China in 2004.

Writer Claire Trageser, of the Daily Transcript, said that there might be excitement when the pandas arrive in Scotland - but nothing like what will happen if a little cub arrives.

She said: "I've seen the pandas a few times and I know everyone goes totally nuts when they have babies. They are one of the worth most popular attractions at the zoo.

wait - are "There is always a long line of people waiting to go in to see them.

"Sometimes it can take hours to get in to watch them in their enclosure. "It's worth the wait though as they are fascinating animals.

"When the pandas have babies and they eventually get sent back to China as part of the research and breeding programme, the place goes crazy and they even have goodbye parties for the pandas. At the zoo, the pandas have lots of space and various things like hammocks to lie on and play with. San Diego Zoo has an outstanding international reputation and seems to really take care of the pandas."

In Berlin Zoo, elder statesman Bao Bao is a huge hit with tourists as he is the oldest male panda in captivity.

He was born in September 1978, in China's Sichuan Province, and was moved to Berlin Zoo in November 1980.

Foreign correspondent Allan Hall said: "The shine was taken off Bao Bao when Knut the polar bear came along at Berlin Zoo but he has since sadly passed away.

"Knut just managed to nudge the panda off the top spot when it came to the most popular attraction at the zoo. Now, Bao Bao is regularly top in surveys of what people most want to see.

"The top three species in the zoo in the popularity stakes are the panda, gorillas and then the hippos. Pandas are just unique creatures and still have an enduring fascination for the public here."

meal: Zooper stars 1600 Giant Pandas are left free and in the wild 200 of the black and white bears are in captivity pounds 15m a year is forecast to be spent on tickets after Edinburgh Zoo arrivals pounds 700,000 a year will be paid to China by Royal Zoological Society of Scotland to rent bears pounds 250,000 was spent on their special enclosure pounds 70,000 will be spent on bamboo every year pounds 47.70 for a family ticket at the capital zoo 40lb of bamboo is eaten pandas every day various on has really 220-250lb The weight of an average panda 16 tourists in hours a panda spends each day feeding 18 1978, and months that a cub spends in with its mum 99 Allan taken the at sadly percent of a panda's diet is made up of bamboo.

nudge it 20-35 years is the life expectancy of a panda in captivity Bao of see.

3-5 months of the normal panda gestation period the are the unique an the 6 years old when a panda reaches sexual maturity

CAPTION(S):

Farewell meal: Panda Yang Guang - Sunshine - enjoys some bamboo before leaving Sichuan yesterday
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Dec 4, 2011
Words:834
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