Scottish Government spends £42,000 on a party…for pandas

In January last year, campaigners from the Captive Animals’ Protection Society were pleased to hear that the Scottish Government would not be offering taxpayers money to fund the, heavily criticised, move to bring giant pandas to Edinburgh Zoo. A government spokesperson at the time said: “We have made it clear that we expect funding for the pandas to come from commercial sponsorship and other revenue sources”. However, a year on, the Government appear to have had a change of heart by handing over £42,722.17 to fund the “panda arrival event” and associated marketing.

The information was obtained in the last week from the Scottish Government by the charity using the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Conservationists have lambasted the panda deal and the zoo was beset with problems throughout 2011.

CAPS Director, Liz Tyson said:

“We were pleased when we heard that taxpayers’ money would not be used to fund the new panda exhibit as we believe it is both unethical and, importantly, will not make any relevant contribution to the conservation of this incredible species. The monetary contribution from the Scottish Government was reported in press to be “small” but, in these times of austerity, it is difficult to see how the Government can justify spending nearly £43,000 on a welcome party for the two animals.

This, coupled with the fact that the deal has been regularly referred to as a “gift” when it is, in fact, costing the zoo hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to lease the pandas just adds to the growing number of misleading statements being made on the deal which is, as the Scottish Government stated when the deal was first mooted, “primarily a commercial transaction””.

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