|[Photos by Liu Guiying]
Male panda Yang Guang, or "Sunshine," and his mate Tian Tian, or "Sweetie," are heading for Edinburgh Zoo from the Giant Panda Conservation and Research Center in Sichuan province on Sunday, Dec 3, 2011.
As both pandas are in their breeding periods, they are widely expected to produce cubs during their 10-year loan to the Edinburgh Zoo.
The zoo had previously said it would invest 300,000 pounds in building a new panda habitat, which includes a bamboo forest, a swimming pool, play facilities, a panda clinic and a nursing house.
Cameras installed in the pandas' habitat will let fans around the globe watch the pair's lives in the open enclosure as well as in their separate rooms. Their activities in a cavernous boudoir, however, will be kept private.
Yang Guang is a son of "star panda" Pan Pan, the mascot for the 11th Asian Games in 1990, and Tian Tian is the mother of twins. Both were born in 2003.
They were selected as goodwill ambassadors after Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang visited Britain in January and oversaw a panda loan agreement signed between the China Wildlife Conservation Association and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, which owns Edinburgh Zoo.
Their arrival will mark the return of the giant panda to the view of the British public, 17 years after Ming Ming left the U.K. in 1994.
Prior to Ming Ming, China had sent two pandas, Jia Jia and Jing Jiang, to Britain in 1974. The pair did not give birth to any cubs there, but were widely adored in the London Zoo.