Giant panda family arrives at Calgary Zoo
Published Friday, March 23, 2018 10:28AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 23, 2018 10:34PM EDT
The pandas have arrived in Calgary.
On Friday morning, four giant pandas began their journey to their new home at the Calgary Zoo. They travelled in two FedEx trucks to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to catch a special charter plane.
The two adult giant pandas, Da Mao and Er Shun, were on loan to Toronto for five years as part of a 10-year deal between Canada and China in 2012. They arrived in Toronto in 2013 and will spend the second half of their Canadian visit in Calgary.
Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, the two cubs born at the Toronto Zoo in 2015, will spend nearly a year and a half in Calgary before they leave the adult bears and travel back to China to join a breeding program there.
Hopefully the pandas won’t have any trouble adjusting to their new digs out west. The Calgary Zoo spent $14.5 million on renovating and redesigning a building that used to house elephants for their new guests.
Calgary’s Panda Passage will open to the public on May 7 after the bears spend a month in quarantine to acclimatize to their new home.
Trish Exton-Parder, a spokesperson for the Calgary Zoo, told CTV News Channel that zoo staff has been planning for the panda’s arrival for years.
“The preparations have involved an awful lot of training with our panda team here,” she said on Friday. “We have an excellent group of keepers who have gone to China to learn as much as they can about panda care.”
Exton-Parder said the keepers have also been working with the staff at the Toronto Zoo to understand the individual characteristics and needs of each bear.
“We’re very excited,” she said.
After the cubs travel back to China, Exton-Parder said the zoo will focus on following the Toronto Zoo’s lead by artificially inseminating Er Shun to produce more panda cubs.
“If we’re successful, we’re adding a couple of pandas hopefully to the program,” Exton-Parder said.
The Calgary Zoo, however, has been the site of a slew of accidental animal deaths in recent years.
Most notably, a young hippopotamus died suddenly just days after arriving in 2007. Then, a year later, 40 stingrays died of suffocation. But perhaps the zoo’s most brutal animal accident happened in 2009, when a capybara was crushed to death by a hydraulic door.
“I think they were just very unfortunate to have a string… (of) accidents happen,” Maria Franke of the Toronto Zoo told CTV News.
With a report from CTV’s Peter Akman in Toronto and files from The Canadian Press