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Spotting Mr Panda at Edinburgh Zoo - Our Top Tips!

Those of you who follow us on social media will almost certainly know that as well as books, we love a good competition. In the past we have been fairly lucky winning all sorts of things from family days out and weekend breaks to books and toys and even a children's birthday party. In fact I could easily dedicate an entire post to the joy of comping and perhaps one day I will!

Anyway thanks to one of our comping successes towards the end of last year we took a trip to Edinburgh Zoo. Now did you know that Edinburgh Zoo is the only place in the UK where you can see Giant Pandas? Well we did and that is why we really, REALLY wanted to visit.

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You see the Mini Reviewers have a bit of a thing about pandas. It all started because they LOVE the Mr Panda picture books by Steve Antony and, if I'm honest so do I! If you haven't come across these books already, I cannot recommend them enough. I'll explain why these books are so fantastic later on but first let's get back to our panda spotting adventure.

We spent almost an entire day at Edinburgh Zoo, which is pretty easy to do as it is a big park and there is plenty to see. But before our visit I didn't realise that a panda sighting is not always guaranteed. Apparently pandas sleep a lot and we happened to catch Mr P on a very sleepy day. It was only on our third (and slightly desperate) trip to the panda enclosure that our patience was finally rewarded with a sighting. Mini Reviewer, Theo, was absolutely delighted and he was also totally convinced that it was the "real" Mr Panda!

So now that we are "expert" panda spotters I thought I'd share our top tips for visiting Edinburgh Zoo just in case you ever fancy seeing a panda in the UK:

1. Take the bus. We hopped on the bus from the centre of Edinburgh. There is a stop right opposite the zoo. It was a short and stress free journey and was a lot cheaper than a taxi!
2. Book your panda viewing ticket in advance. It does not cost any extra but without an allocated time slot you will not be able to see the pandas. Also be prepared to return to the panda viewing area throughout the day.
3. Make the most of the scheduled talks. We only listened to one talk and it was fantastic. I really wished we had timed our route around the zoo better to catch a few of the others.
4. Wear comfortable shoes and plan your route. The zoo is large and very hilly! The signage was also quite poor so we covered far more ground than was necessary. It was extremely hard going with three young children especially when they got tired.
5. Read the Mr Panda books before you go (obviously)!

So what is so great about the Mr Panda stories? 
Well the trio of stories are perfect to remind little ones about the importance of good manners and patience. They are full of humour and the illustrations are fantastic. In the original story Please Mr Panda, Mr Panda has a tray of doughnuts. He offers them to all of his friends but it is only when the enthusiastic lemur says "please" that Mr Panda parts with his tasty treats. In the second book I'll Wait, Mr Panda, Mr Panda is baking a surprise. Only one of his friends, a little penguin, is patient enough to wait to find out what the surprise will be. Will his patience be rewarded? Of course it will.

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In the latest book Thank you, Mr Panda, the endearing, if somewhat grumpy, little chap is back and has chosen presents for all of his special friends. He even goes to great lengths to deliver some of them. Unfortunately most of his friends do not appreciate his unusual gifts and he has to remind them "It's the thought that counts!" This book is just as funny and possibly even more  imaginative than the first two stories. It again teaches little ones the importance of being polite.

I am sure that Mr Panda will remain one of our firm family favourites as the Mini Reviewers grow up. In fact Mr Panda is so well regarded in our house that I find myself regularly asking the Mini Reviewers to think of him when they forget to say please or thank you! So when it comes to parenting advice and setting good examples, move over Supernanny because Mr Panda's in town!

We're always of the look out for new books to read and review. If you have any suggestions, please do get in touch!

Disclaimer: We did not pay for entry to Edinburgh Zoo and we received a copy of Thank You, Mr Panda from Hodder Children's Books for the purpose of review. However all opinions are, as always, our own.


  1. Do you know I haven't heard of these books before. They look fab and what a great way for kids to learn some important but free life skills, manners cost nothing after all. Thanks for sharing with #ReadWithMe

  2. We are taking BookBairn to the zoo for her birthday next month. Can't wait! I think she will love all the animals. And fingers crossed we get to see the pandas too!

  3. We love pandas. I didn't realise they slept so much either. Glad you saw one! #BloggerClubUK

  4. Edinburgh zoo is EXHAUSTING. They used to do a shuttle bus to the top of the hill so you could just walk down the way. Now we head to the stop right at the start to get the walk out of the way. But I always take a buggy. The pandas are great but my husband is convinced it's just a man in a panda suit! #KCACOLS

    1. Haha yes EXHAUSTING! I certainly got my workout that day! x

  5. How neat that you got to see the panda! I haven't heard of that book before, but it looks cute :) #citytripping

  6. I used to visit Edinburgh Zoo a lot (before the pandas came) and it is huge, but such a great zoo - I should really find an excuse to get back there again before long. I am definitely off to check out the Mr Panda books, I hadn't heard of those but I think my daughter would love them. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  7. I've never been to Edinburgh zoo but heard great things. Would love to see the pandas and will have to check out the Mr Panda books - I'm wasn't familiar with them.

  8. ooh I have never heard of these books before I will have to have a look for them! It sounds and looks like you had a fab day! Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS we hope to see you again :) xx

  9. Aw these Mr. Panda books look awesome. I definitely need to get Snappy some of these. #kcacols

  10. I love the look of the books and I did to know Edinburgh Zoo was the only sooo to have pandas! #KCACOLS

  11. What a lovely book! I love pandas and my daughters too. It will be an amazing experience for them to be able to spot them. I think this book will be fun for my girls! Thanks so much for sharing this at #KCACOLS, :-) x

  12. I've never heard of these books, but they look really fun! I am hoping to take my children to the zoo to this summer too. Thanks for linking up to #kltr

  13. I do not recall knowing these books were out there. Will have to mark this down to look for. thanks for linking up to #KLTR.