Inverness school children are set to get a taste of the panda fever sweeping the nation today (Friday 16 December) as celebrations marking the arrival of two giant pandas to Scotland from China come to classrooms.
Pupils from the primary 7 class at Duncan Forbes Primary School in Inverness are getting a special visit from a giant panda mascot as part of an educational roadshow taking place in six schools across the country.
The roadshow is part of the Scottish Government’s celebrations to welcome the giant pandas Tian Tian (Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine) who arrived in their new home at Edinburgh Zoo last Sunday (4th December).
Pupils will learn about Scotland’s links with China and also find out more about the bears, who are the first giant pandas to live in the UK for 17 years.
A special enclosure has been built at the Zoo featuring pools, caves, climbing structures and a nursery. Scores of visitors are expected to see the pandas who are also part of an important conservation programme.
School children across the country have also been sharing their ideas of how they would welcome the pandas to Scotland, from singing songs to dressing up in tartan. The pupils have drawn pictures and written stories about Scotland’s landmarks and culture, which are on display at their schools.
The pandas’ presence in Scotland is a sign of a strengthened alliance with China and opens up new opportunities in trade, culture and particularly in education.
Higher Mandarin/Cantonese was introduced in Scottish secondary schools last year, and already there are 10 Confucius classroom hubs across Scotland.
Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said: “Our roadshow is designed to inspire and educate young people about the pandas and why they are here in Scotland. It is hoped that today’s visit will be lots of fun for the children but also educational and open their eyes to our cultural links with China. Scotland’s relationship with China is increasingly significant and it is important for our young people to learn about the role China will no doubt play in their futures.”
The Highland Council’s Chairman of the Education, Culture and Sport Committee, Councillor Bill Fernie said: “This is a great opportunity for the children to hear about a different culture and learn about the importance of ensuring endangered animals, such as the Panda are protected.”
Head teacher Mrs Stewart added: “All the children are looking forward to making friends with the panda mascot during the visit. This fun opportunity is a great way to explore more about these fascinating animals and how they have come to be in Scotland.”