ONE can’t help comparing the forthcoming birth of a baby panda at Edinburgh zoo with another recent history-making arrival.

While Prince George and baby panda can both claim to be good for tourism, and will have their lives chronicled from cradle to grave, their respective futures could not be more different.

One will travel the world, captivating audiences, and rule over millions of subjects, whereas the other will spend his life in a cage until the day he dies in captivity, thousands of miles from where he truly belongs.

Anyone who genuinely cares about the future of pandas and other endangered animals should follow the example of Prince William’s work with the Tusk Trust and donate to genuine protection programmes in the animals’ natural homelands.

It’s time to spurn captivity.

Recently, Costa Rica’s environment minister, speaking of the decision to close his country’s zoos, recalled an experience from his childhood. “One day,” he said, “we took the parrot out to the patio, and a flock of wild parrots passed, and the parrot went with them.

“It made a big impression on me because I thought that we were taking good care of her. We fed her with food and affection . . . all these things that we as humans thought she liked. And when she had the chance, she left.”

Ben Williamson People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).