Times Colonist

Calgary pandas head home due to bamboo shortage


CALGARY — The Calgary Zoo says two giant pandas headed home to China on Friday.

The zoo said in May that it would be sending the pair back early because the COVID-19 pandemic was making it difficult to source bamboo.

The plant makes up 99 per cent of the animals’ diet and the zoo has said it was an expensive and all-consuming effort to cobble together supplies from across North America.

The zoo said on Twitter it was a difficult decision to send the pandas home three years earlier than planned.

It said it took months of hard work to secure internatio­nal permits to get the pandas home.

The zoo posted photos of reams of paperwork needed for the journey, the crates that were to carry the pandas and the Lufthansa Cargo plane that was to take them to China.

The two adults, Er Shun and Da Mao, were on loan from China to Canadian zoos as part of a 10-year deal signed in 2012. They were to stay in Calgary until 2023.

Two cubs, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, were born in Toronto in 2015. They were sent to China as planned in January.

The price tag to have the pandas in Calgary was around $30 million, including

$14.4 million for the Panda Passage exhibit itself. Expanded parking lots, washrooms and restaurant­s were also required to accommodat­e an expected influx of visitors.

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