Setting the scene for some panda love
LOVE shack wanted: must have water feature, climbing frame and ... cave.
Those were the specifications Alan Philip had to 'bear' in mind when creating a dream des res - for Edinburgh Zoo's famous pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang!
As the cuddly couple were brought together this week to mate, Alan, from Rosyth, can take pride and satisfaction in the role he's played in creating the perfect panda pad.
As works team leader at Edinburgh Zoo, Alan (29) managed the building of the panda enclosure, which took a year to complete.
And together with Rosyth joiner Kenny Stronach, he planned and produced the pandas' climbing frames - with timber sourced from Dunfermline building supplies company Beatsons.
Alan, of Sherbrooke Road, smiled, "It's never been done before so it was a real novelty.
"The pond had to be as natural as possible - the female goes into the water when she's in season, that's one of the tell-tale signs that she's ready.
"And boy, there's some amount of bamboo in there!
"I had to come up with a design for the climbing structure, which needed to have various heights and levels, and part of it had to be covered to have protection against the light.
"It was made with telegraph poles and I linked everything together with smaller logs to create a ramp and a pitched roof - which the male likes to sit on in the middle of the night!
"Me and Kenny built the male's climbing structure so the rest of the guys could see what we wanted.
"I also managed the building of the inside enclosure - it's has a three-tier wooden platform and a metal basket where they can sleep.
"I was involved in bringing them to the zoo and watched them walking into the enclosure - the male settled in really quickly.
"The pandas' welfare is priority - it determines whether anyone sees them or not."
Working on such a unique project, Alan has received his fair share of funny looks and responses.
He laughed, "You call a supplier and tell them you're looking for wood, and they ask you what it's for.
"When you tell them it's for a panda climbing frame, they say, 'You're nuts! Are you taking the mick?' They think you're off your rocker."
Dunfermline companies are also involved in projects at the zoo: Beatsons supplies building materials and is a sponsor of the zoo, and Equinox Access Solutions is contracted for high-level access tasks, and sponsors the chimps.
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Apr 7, 20:38