Calgary Zoo's new pandas get celebrity treatment
Published Monday, May 7, 2018 11:02AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 7, 2018 10:03PM EDT
The Calgary Zoo raised the curtain Monday on its newly acquired family of four giant pandas, and the bears are already getting the celebrity treatment.
The family of four collectively eat about 40 kilograms of bamboo each day, and the zoo is flying in nine different types of bamboo fresh from China, just to keep them happy.
“From the time that it gets cut in the high mountains to being here chomped on by a panda is 48 hours,” said Axel Moehrenschlager, the zoo’s conservation and science director.
The zoo spent $14.5 million on its new panda exhibit, which attracted about 2,800 visitors on its first day.
The two adults, Er Shun and Da Mao, were loaned to Canada from China for 10 years. They spent their first five years in Toronto, where cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue were born.
China loans pandas to foreign zoos partly as diplomacy, but also to ensure the survival of the species.
Last year, the species was downgraded from “endangered” to “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, after census-takers counted 1,864 pandas in the wild.
“I hope that the public starts to see what is possible when conservation is engaged, that a species like this can be saved if we work together,” Moehrenschlager said.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Lois Mitchell and Lu Sha Ye, China’s ambassador to Canada, were among the dignitaries who attended the public unveiling on Monday.
“Apparently, human beings, regardless of culture and background are intuitively drawn to things that are black and white: orcas, penguins, pandas,” Nenshi remarked.
Er Shun and Da Mao will stay in Calgary for five years. The cubs will be shipped back to China after 18 months.
He Zhang, who is originally from China, was among the excited fans who lined up on Monday.
“I like to see good things happening (between) Canada and China,” he said. “They have a lot of things different in politics, but at least (with) pandas, everybody loves them.”
With a report from CTV’s Janet Dirks and CTV Calgary’s Alesia Fieldberg