Thatcher refused to take panda to Washington in Concorde, papers show

Source:AFP Published: 2018/1/1 18:48:40

Margaret Thatcher refused a request to fly a panda in the back of her Concorde when she visited Washington, DC for her first summit with Ronald Reagan, according to papers released on Friday.

The then prime minister was drawn into the scheme in January 1981, the same month that Reagan was inaugurated, when the Smithsonian Institution appealed to London Zoo for the loan of its male panda.

The president of the London Zoological Society, Solly Zuckerman, seized on the opportunity to create a publicity stunt.

Thatcher was not convinced, however, that she should be involved in promoting London Zoo's efforts to bring a new mate to a female panda.

"Lord Z knows more about pandas than I do - I am sure he can arrange these things," she said in a handwritten note.

Her private secretary replied to Zuckerman, "She has commented that she is not taking a panda with her - 'Pandas and politicians are not happy omens!'"



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