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The FedEx Panda Express: China to Scotland

November 28, 2011

FedEx Express donated our logistical services to transport two giant pandas from China to Scotland on Sunday, December 4, 2011.

Yang Guang relaxes at the Edinburgh Zoo after his long journey from China.

yang guang


FedEx crew wore kilts for the special occasion.

panda pilots

Check back here for live blog updates and photos as the Pandas begin their journey!
[Share your thoughts on the Panda Express photo album on FedEx Community Involvement Facebook site]

FedEx Express is donating our logistical services to transport two giant pandas from China to Scotland on Sunday, December 4, 2011.

Update: Dec 4, 2011, 1pm GMT – We’ve landed in Scotland!

The FedEx Panda Express has landed in Scotland with Tian Tian and Yang Guang, the newest residents of the Edinburgh Zoo.

Update: Dec 4, 2011 – Ready for takeoff!

ygAfter months of preparations, the time is here! The crew of the “FedEx Panda Express” is at Chengdu Airport in China and we’re ready to fire up the engines of our Boeing 777F and take off for Scotland.

Our VIP (Very Important Panda) cargo – Tian Tian and Yang Guang – are safely on board and seem to be just as anxious as we are to see their new home at the Edinburgh Zoo. 

We should be on the ground in Scotland in a few hours – and have a special surprise for the folks on the tarmac when the pilots deplane! We’ll share more news and photos when we’re on the ground in the UK. Until then, this VIP plane is headed for take-off!

Update: Dec 1, 2011 – So, Just How Do You Move a Panda?
Author, Dave Lange, Managing Director, Aircraft Charters, FedEx Express

Whenever FedEx takes on a VIP shipment like Tian Tian and Yang Guang’s journey from China to Scotland, we get a lot of questions about just what goes into making a move like that happen. As the head of charter operations here at FedEx Express, I oversee most of the logistics behind special moves such as the one coming up on December 4.

Here’s a little snapshot of all the behind-the-scenes activity that made this delivery possible:

We wanted to ensure that everyone who sees the plane and trucks moving Tian Tian and Yang Guang know just what VIP (Very Important Panda) cargo is being carried inside. To make that hope a reality, we had enormous decals printed and applied to the “FedEx Panda Express” aircraft and vehicles. The decaling process for our Boeing 777F aircraft took several days to complete – all of which we captured in the time-lapse video you can watch here.

In 2010, FedEx had two specially-designed panda enclosures built for the safe and secure China homecoming of U.S.-born pandas Tai Shan and Mei Lan. Those enclosures were pulled out of storage and fully refurbished – securing a seal of approval from animal specialists at the Memphis Zoo, which has been home to two pandas since 2003. On November 18, these two enclosures were shipped FedEx (what else!) to China in anticipation of the pandas’ departure. (See photos below.)

As we get closer to the holiday season, FedEx enters its busiest time of year with retailers and shoppers mailing gifts around the world. Despite the steadily increasing package volumes, FedEx was committed to dedicating a Boeing 777F – the world’s largest twin-engine cargo plane and the most fuel efficient wide-body aircraft in our fleet – solely to the pandas’ journey. To make it happen we carefully planned our crew schedules and aircraft locations to be sure the pilots would be ready and waiting in China, and the designated “FedEx Panda Express” aircraft would be in Memphis the week of Thanksgiving for its special decaling and back in China before December 4. Making all of that happen in a network with hundreds of planes and thousands of pilots flying around the globe each and every night is no mean feat!

Update: Dec 1, 2011
Applying the FedEx Panda Express decal to the Boeing 777F.

Update: Nov 30, 2011
Our Boeing 777F FedEx Panda Express is getting ready to head to China to pick up the pandas.
panda logo planepanda logo close

Update: Nov 29, 2011
The custom built panda enclosures have been completed and are ready to carry Tian Tian and Yang Guang on their journey to Scotland!
enclosure tianenclosure load

The FedEx Panda Express – China to Scotland
Author: Gerald P. Leary, President of FedEx Express in Europe, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Africa (EMEA)

Almost two years ago, in February, 2010, two male pandas were safely and successfully moved from the U.S. where they were born, to China.

Move forward to December 4th, 2011: Subject to regulatory approval, FedEx will once more be tasked with transporting two giant pandas across thousands of miles to an exciting new life. This time, Tian Tian (甜甜, aka Sweetie), an eight year-old female panda, and Yang Guang (阳光, aka Sunshine), an eight year-old male panda are traveling from Chengdu’s Bifengxia Panda Base in China to a new life in the Scottish city of Edinburgh.

Working in conjunction with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) in China, FedEx Express will fly the pandas non-stop from Chengdu Airport in China to Edinburgh International Airport in Scotland on a specially-chartered Boeing 777F flight known as the “FedEx Panda Express”.

During the flight we’re going to take great care of Sweetie and Sunshine. They will travel under constant watch and be provided with boxes of bamboo, apples, carrots, panda cake, and mineral water.

This will mark the first time in more than 17 years that giant pandas will reside in the United Kingdom.  The UK’s last giant panda, Ming Ming, left London Zoo to return to China on October 26, 1994

I and my team at FedEx Express are privileged to be involved in this amazing and important event and to donate our support and expertise to transporting these noble animals to their new home. We feel truly proud to support the preservation efforts of this endangered species.

Follow the FedEx Panda Express:
FedEx Facebook Edinburgh Zoo Facebook
@FedEx on Twitter @EdinburghZoo on Twitter

Due to security regulations, the departure and arrival events of the pandas will be closed to the general public, but people can follow the pandas’ journey on our blog.  

FedEx Express has a long history of transporting rare and delicate cargo. In February 2010 FedEx Express transported Tai Shan, a male panda born at the National Zoo in Washington DC, US, and Mei Lan, a male panda born at Zoo Atlanta, Georgia, US, back to China. In 2003, FedEx Express transported two giant pandas from China to the Memphis Zoo, Tennessee, US. In 2000, FedEx Express transported Tai Shan’s parents from China to Washington D.C.’s National Zoo.  

Exotic cargo transported by FedEx Express has included polar bears, white tigers, elephants, penguins, mountain lions, gorillas, eagles and even a 13-foot tiger shark used in filming the movie “Jaws.”

Other unusual international cargo transported by FedEx includes a windmill from Denmark, the Ryder Cup and a vintage Jaguar Le Mans car worth over £1 million.


    Dawn Edwards says:

    Will there be panda express T shirts for the staff, loved seeing them when you moved Tai Shan from NZ to China, would love to purchase one if possible, also will the replica plane models be available, Thank You Fed ex for taking such good care of out precious pandas, hope you will have footage of the arrival for us all to view

    samantha wilkie says:

    i love pandas so much! thank you so much for bringing them over!!!pandas are my favourite animal and i think they are so cute!

    Edinburgh Flats says:

    I think this is a real great post. Fantastic.

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