China to co-host panda gala
The Toronto Zoo, home to Canada’s only two giant pandas Da Mao and Er Shun, who are on a five-year conservation and breeding loan from China, announced on Monday that it will co-host a gala fun draiser with the Chinese Consulate General in Toronto.
The Moon Festival Gala to be held on Sept 13 in the Giant Panda Experience park at the zoo is expected to attract 300 guests and raise $100,000 for giant panda research and conservation.
Arriving in Toronto last spring, Da Mao and Er Shun came to Canada in the context of the fast-growing bilateral relations between China and Canada.
“The pandas have brought the people of China and the people of Canada together again,” said Fang Li, Consul General of China in Toronto. “We continue the celebration of close cultural ties between our two countries symbolized by the pandas.”
Joe Torzsok, chairman of the zoo board, said they are looking forward to co-hosting the first Moon Festival Gala. “We are also very privileged to have the support of RBC Financial, Manulife and the Chinese Fujian Enterprise Association as industry co-chairs, as well as Compass Canada as the reception sponsor and Pfaff as valet sponsor,” Torzsok said.
Zoo CEO John Tracogna said that as a part of the zoo’s upcoming 40th anniversary celebration the Moon Festival Gala was a good way to highlight the zoo’s long tradition of saving and protecting species at home and abroad.
“This event will not only help us raise funds for giant panda conservation, it will also honor the friendship between China and Canada by co-hosting this inaugural event with the consul general of China,” Tracogna said.
The zoo recently announced that the female of the pair, Er Shun, had been artificially inseminated, but added that pregnancy in giant pandas cannot be detected for months or more.
“We’re very hopeful for the possibility of breeding this endangered species,” Tracogna added.
Da Mao and Er Shun have reportedly boosted visitor attendance at the Toronto Zoo and zoo officials hope a potential pregnancy will boost it even further.
Guests pose at the press conference of Moon Festival Panda Gala 2014 at the Toronto Zoo on Monday.