The pandas at the Calgary Zoo are iconic. But since the zoo had to close its doors because of COVID-19, staff have had a difficult time getting in the supplies the animals need. This has forced the establishment to make the difficult decision to send the Calgary Zoo pandas back to China where there will be enough bamboo for them to eat.
While the zoo's adorable resident pandas that spend most of their day eating and sleeping on one another are total cult-favourites, they are now going to be shipped back to China.
Because of the pandemic, the zoo has stated that it has been difficult to get bamboo for the animals in a timely manner.
The zoo believes that the safest place for pandas Er Shun and Da Mao to be is in China as bamboo is abundant in the area.
“This was an incredibly difficult decision to make but the health and well-being of the animals we love and care for always comes first,” said Calgary Zoo President & CEO Dr. Clément Lanthier in a press release.
In the statement, the zoo wrote that 99% of a panda's diet is fresh bamboo and each adult will consume about 40 kilograms of the food daily.
In the last two months, the zoo has seen changes in transposition “destroy the bamboo supply lines” that they have depended on for quite some time.
WestJet helped and stepped up to the plate to transport bamboo from Toronto to Calgary as direct flights from China to Calgary have been cancelled — but fewer flights between China and Toronto are becoming available.
Shipping the animals away was not the zoo’s first choice as they looked into working with alternate bamboo suppliers.
Other suppliers proved to be unsatisfactory as there were misdirected shipments, slower than acceptable delivery times, poor quality bamboo that the pandas would not eat, and limited supplies.
“I am continually amazed by the resourcefulness and dedication of our team,” said Lanthier
“Unfortunately, they are fighting against forces much greater than the Calgary Zoo. Even the Canadian government had to fly empty planes out of China.”
While it is a sad situation, the zoo sees it as the best option for the animals.
The panda duo first arrived in Canada in 2014 as part of a 10-year agreement between Canada and China.
After living their first five years in Toronto, the two giant pandas happily arrived in Calgary in 2018 wth cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue.
The staff have not confirmed when exactly the pandas would be shipped back to China or if they would come back to Calgary, but they are encouraging everyone to say a virtual farewell through their live panda cams.