Penguin droppings hit panda queue at Edinburgh Zoo

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Media caption,
The rockhopper penguins have been "curious" about the goings on at the panda enclosure

People queuing to see the panda enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo are being hit by penguin droppings as the curious birds have been watching proceedings.

Rockhopper penguins have been standing along the edge of their enclosure since the pandas arrived earlier this month.

The penguins are higher than the panda enclosure due to the site being on Corstorphine Hill.

Now officials are planning to build a glass panel in a bid to stop people being hit by the guano.

Gary Wilson, Edinburgh Zoo's director of business operations, said: "Our rockhopper penguins in particular have been watching the events at the panda enclosure below with great interest, ever since work started on the enclosure.

"Extremely curious birds, they often gather next to the wall to see what's happening below.

"We're hoping it's not a case of monochrome jealousy, but one or two of our rockhoppers seem to have had surprisingly good aim.

Image caption,
The panda queue stands beside the high wall of the penguin enclosure

"We're just looking into a solution right now, probably in the form of a glass panel so that the visitors' view of the penguins isn't obscured."

A 41-year-old, who was standing in the panda queue on Sunday said: "We were queuing to see the pandas when a man in front shouted out in surprise that his jacket had been hit by a big dollop of penguin poo.

"It just missed me and my family and it was really oily and stank of fish.

"It was disgusting.

"It looked like it would be really hard to clean off.

"It was quite funny but the zoo should do something so it doesn't happen to anyone else."

Although the pandas arrived from China on 4 December they were given time to recover from their long journey before going on display to the public on Friday.

Visitor numbers

Visitor numbers marked a 200% rise on usual numbers for a December Friday.

Zoo officials said pre-booked tickets for the first weekend were up by about 80% on usual expectations for a pre-Christmas winter weekend.

Image caption,
Yang Guang settles into his new enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo

Each giant panda enclosure has a glass wall for the public to view the animals.

The pandas' new £250,000 home at the zoo includes two separate enclosures.

When Tian Tian comes into season the pair will be introduced to each other - possibly in February or March.

Tian Tian has had twin cubs in the past, and Yang Guang has also fathered cubs - though not as a pair together.

Animal welfare campaigners have criticised the zoo for accepting the pandas, saying it was a "primarily commercial deal".

They have claimed it is not a credible way to go about saving the giant panda.

Bringing the pandas to Edinburgh has involved a five-year effort by the zoo.

The pair will stay at the zoo for at least 10 years.

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