Countdown to panda-mania at Calgary Zoo
The Calgary Zoo is putting the finishing touches on the new Panda Passage habitat which will open to the public in less than a month.
Er Shun and Da Mao, two adult giant pandas from China, and twin cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, born at the Toronto Zoo in 2015, will be the residents of the recently completed panda pad. They were transported safely to the Calgary Zoo on March 23 and will remain in quarantine to acclimatize to their new environment and zookeepers before the habitat opens to the public on May 7.
“The countdown to panda-mania is on. Panda Passage opens to the public in less than 30 days and soon we will be able to see first-hand the giant pandas that have captured our hearts. We expect Albertans and visitors alike will be excited to meet these furry, fun-loving bears and they are sure to enrich the visitor experience for everyone. The Calgary Zoo is world-renowned and once the Panda Passage opens, it will help increase tourism, create jobs and contribute to a very important conservation program.”
The Alberta government announced $10 million in Capital Plan funding for the development of the Panda Passage in 2016. The project has already had a positive impact on the economy with an estimated 200 jobs created throughout construction, along with an estimated 40 new zoo-related jobs.
The Calgary Zoo first housed pandas in 1988 and attracted record numbers of visitors. The new habitat is expected to draw 1.5 million visitors to the zoo in the first year, and generate an additional economic impact of $18 million.
“We are so pleased to welcome Er Shun, Da Mao, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue to Calgary and to their new habitat, Panda Passage, for the next five years. They are wonderful ambassadors and will help us share with our community the importance of protecting species at risk, here in Canada and around the world. We are grateful for the support of the Government of Alberta and their $10-million investment in helping to create a habitat for these international symbols of wildlife conservation along with an incredible experience for our many guests who come to visit them.”
In addition to the one-of-a-kind habitat, visitors will pass through the newly unveiled Panda Passage Moon Gate to enter the pandas’ new home. Feng shui, the Chinese system of harmonizing individuals with their surrounding environment, was a big consideration for the location of the gate in relation to the pandas’ habitat. A feng shui expert determined the gate angle and location to create positive energy flow or “chi” for the entire stay of the giant pandas.
The two adult pandas arrived in Toronto in 2013 as part of a 10-year agreement between Canada and China in 2012; they will spend the remainder of their stay in Canada at the Calgary Zoo. The cubs will spend about 18 months in Calgary before they travel back to China to join a panda-breeding program.