Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Canada imports pandas from China

The male and female Mao and Er Da Shun come to Canada on Monday (25th) in a specially chartered plane. They are the first of the kind in the country in nearly 30 years

Er Da Shun and Mao are much awaited at the Toronto zoo. The two giant pandas from China will arrive on Monday (25th) after a journey of almost 24 hours, with a stop in Alaska.  Their stay will be ten years (five for Toronto and five in Calgary) in an operation that required the chartering of a single plane for a couple of animals.

A team of seven people (including two technicians and a veterinarian) is transporting the animals on a plane loaned by Federal Express. On the plane, the pandas will travel in a sort of cage made of plexiglass, with bamboo and water, and toys to amuse themselves. There are 15 hours of flying beyond the range in Alaska for refueling aircraft and exchange of staff. The company also promises agility in customs clearance of the pandas, so they do not get stressed more than necessary.

The company also pledged to carry 900 pounds of bamboo per week, three flights a week, coming from the Memphis Zoo, over the next ten years, to feed the pandas.

The loan began to be arranged last year after an official request from the Canadian Prime Minister to the Chinese government in 2012. It's the first time in 28 years that Canada will keep  the pandas in their zoos, at the cost of one million Canadian dollars a year (about U.S. $ 1.96 million), which according to Maria Franke, curator of mammals for the Toronto Zoo, will be used by the Chinese government in its efforts to preserve the species.

Besides placing Er Shun, six years, and Mao Da, five years,  for display, institution technicians intend to try crossing them when they enter reproductive age, in two or three years, naturally or by artificial insemination. Research  will also be undertaken on the species' reproduction, physiology and nutrition.

According to Maria, Er Shun is docile and loves to interact with humans, while Da Mao is active and affectionate.

"Pandas are a symbol of global efforts for conservation of all endangered species, and with them, we intend to increase attention to our own animals at risk," explained Maria from iG. It is estimated that in 2000, there are 300 pandas in the wild and others captive worldwide.

The zoo is preparing a new area for display to the public only in late May - it takes a long time to quarantine animals and another for their adaptation to the new home.

It is expected that visitors will increase by 300 to 500 thousand from the 1.4 million that the zoo already receives annually.

It is the fifth time that Federal Express carries giant pandas from China for zoos in North America and Europe. The company has also transported various animals, such as horses, turtles, lionesses, hippos, elephants and tigers.

Translated from the Portuguese version by:

Lisa Karpova


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