Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once rejected a proposal that she freight a giant panda on the plane she was taking to Washington, D.C., for a meeting with then-President Ronald Reagan.
“I am NOT taking a panda with ME,’’ Thatcher wrote at the top of a 1981 briefing note from cabinet secretary Sir Robert Armstrong discussing the matter.
“Politicians and pandas are not happy omens,’’ she added.
The anecdote about the "Iron Lady," who was prime minister from 1979 to 1990, was made public Friday when the National Archives in London released a trove of government documents.
Lord Zuckerman, a former president of the London Zoological Society, initially suggested that Chia Chia, a panda at the London Zoo, share Thatcher's Concorde flight as "a signal demonstration of the special relationship" between the U.K. and the U.S.
He had earlier been approached by Washington's Smithsonian Institution about borrowing the animal to mate with U.S.-based Ching Ching.