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Was $66,000 too much to spend on a party for giant pandas?

The Scottish government didn't think so, according to its spending records.
Giant pandas edinburgh zoo scotlandEnlarge
Well, he looks like he's enjoying himself. (-/AFP/Getty Images)

How would you throw a party for two giant pandas?

A few bamboo shoots, a camera to capture the whole thing for YouTube and you'd be set, right?

Wrong.

The welcome bash given pandas Tian Tian and Yuan Guang when they arrived at Edinburgh Zoo last month was a multi-thousand-pound affair – paid for by Scottish taxpayers.

That's according to anti-zoo campaigners and panda-party-poopers the Captive Animals' Protection Society (CAPS), which obtained spending records from the Scottish government under the Freedom of Information Act.

The record showed the government spent exactly £42,722.17 (about $66,000) on the "'panda arrival event' and associated marketing," CAPS said.

The high-profile panda exhibit was supposed to be paid for by commercial sponsors and not public funds, complained CAPS, which presumably won't be getting an invite to the next do.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish government dismissed the claims as "nonsense." The Scottish government made "a small financial contribution towards the cost of the arrival event in recognition of the fact that the pandas are a symbol of the great and growing friendship between Scotland and China," the BBC quoted her as saying.

It's a friendship that costs the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland more than £600,000 ($935,000) a year to China for the lease of the two bears, according to The Associated Press.

Edinburgh Zoo – which has spent $388,000 on a special enclosure for the pair, not to mention their specially imported organic bamboo – expects a return on its investment of more than $3 million for each of the 10 years it keeps the pandas, The Guardian reported. Over 10,000 people have already booked tickets to see them.

If you weren't one of them, don't worry! The Scottish government has helpfully been posting videos on its YouTube channel, at an undisclosed cost to the taxpayer.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/giant-panda-party-edinburgh-scotland