Calgary Zoo relocating giant pandas to China amid COVID-19

Calgary Zoo

Calgary Zoo has announced that it will be relocating giant pandas Er Shun and Da Mao back home to China. This is a result of bamboo barriers caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Calgary Zoo has been overcoming hurdles for some months as it attempts to transport fresh bamboo to feed Er Shun and Da Mao.

The attraction in Canada has now made the decision to return the giant pandas to China, where bamboo is plentiful and local.

“We believe the best and safest place for Er Shun and Da Mao to be during these challenging and unprecedented times is where bamboo is abundant and easy to access,” said Calgary Zoo president and CEO Dr Clément Lanthier.

Bamboo is easy to access and abundant in China

“This was an incredibly difficult decision to make but the health and wellbeing of the animals we love and care for always comes first.”

According to a press release, giant pandas have unique nutritional requirements, with 99 percent of their diet made up of fresh bamboo.

An adult giant panda consumes approximately 40kg of bamboo daily, but changes in transportation have destroyed the bamboo supply lines.

Initially, direct flight cancellations between China and Calgary resulted in WestJet moving the bamboo from Toronto the Calgary.

Calgary Zoo overcomes barriers caused by COVID-19

However, this was no longer an option when COVID-19 resulted in fewer flights between China and Toronto.

Calgary Zoo worked with alternate bamboo suppliers, but faced misdirected shipments, slow delivery times, and concern with limited supplies.

As these lines of supply could be disrupted, the zoo felt it necessary to relocate its giant pandas, who “will be deeply missed by staff, volunteers, donors and visitors”.

“I am continually amazed by the resourcefulness and dedication of our team,” added 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.”

Er Shun and Da Mao arrived in Canada in 2014. They spent five years at the Toronto Zoo before arriving at Calgary Zoo in 2018 with cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue.