A BORDERS nursery owner has offered to step in and help supply bamboo for Edinburgh Zoo’s new giant pandas.
Zoo bosses say if food stocks run out for Tian Tian and Yuanggaung, who arrive later this year, they may need to turn to local nurseries or gardeners.
Emma Emerson, who runs Newton Don Gardens near Kelso, has offered to supply the grass as part of any contingency plans.
Mrs Emerson, who takes over Woodside Walled Garden centre near Jedburgh next month, said: “We don’t stock much in the way of bamboo at the moment but if we can help we would love to.
“We would also be happy to be used as a contact if they needed to get bamboo supplies.”
Tian Tian and Yuanggaung will be the first giant pandas to live in the UK since 1993.
The breeding pair are coming from China in a deal struck by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association.
Gary Wilson, chief operating officer at Edinburgh Zoo, said: “The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland has been negotiating to bring a pair of breeding pandas from China to Scotland over the last four to five years.
“As part of those negotiations, the team at Edinburgh Zoo has been preparing plans to house the pandas – from a specially-designed enclosure, to the provision of bamboo to feed the pandas’ demand.”
Each panda can eat between 20 and 30 kilos of bamboo a day, equating to 99 per cent of their diet.
Mr Wilson added: “For the past two years, Edinburgh Zoo has tested bamboo planting in various areas within the zoo park, and has plans to plant more on other areas, as well as on earmarked land elsewhere.
“The team is also working with nurseries in England and Germany, both of which have experience of supplying giant pandas, previously in London and currently throughout Europe.”
Mr Wilson described reports that members of the public would be asked to grow bamboo in their gardens as “premature”.
“Some zoos elsewhere in the world take their supplies of bamboo from members of the public who have signed up to a structured scheme to grow bamboo,” he said.
“If Edinburgh Zoo were to go down this route, it would have to be done in an organised way by asking people to agree to donate bamboo on a rotational basis, under which the quality of the plant can be controlled.”