It’s Panda-monium at the Calgary Zoo
After years of planning and anticipation, the Panda Passage habitat at the Calgary Zoo is now open.
It was panda-monium as fans lined up for a first glimpse of the Giant Pandas during the official public opening on May 7.
Er Shun and Da Mao, along with twin cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, didn’t disappoint as visitors explored the new habitat and exhibit.
“We are thrilled to welcome Alberta’s newest residents to the province, especially during Canada-China Year of Tourism. We couldn’t be more pleased that this world class exhibit will promote wildlife conservation efforts, as well as our goal of encouraging trade between Alberta and China. The Alberta government is proud to be supporting animal conservation efforts while enriching Alberta’s economy and tourism sector with this amazing opportunity.”
“We are so excited that Albertans and visitors can finally meet China’s most iconic and treasured furry, fun-loving bears. It’s been two years since the construction kick off and sod-turning in what used to be the rhino enclosure, into the new Panda Passage habitat. The panda’s arrival puts the Calgary Zoo in the same class as other world-renowned institutes that value conservation and protection of endangered species. I hope Albertans and our visitors take advantage of the amazing opportunity we have here for the next five years.”
The zoo expansion is part of an agreement that Canada and China brokered, where two adult pandas would be loaned to two Canadian zoos to support conservation efforts while strengthening our country’s relationships. Two pandas turned into four with the arrival of twin cubs born during their stay at the Toronto Zoo.
The Government of Alberta invested $10 million in Capital Plan funding in 2016 for the development of Panda Passage. 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 panda habitat is expected to draw 1.5-million visitors in its first year and create an additional economic impact of $18 million.
“We are so pleased to welcome the giant pandas as ambassadors of wildlife conservation to our great city and province through the support of the Alberta Government. Panda Passage is a remarkable habitat; one that will provide us with greater opportunities to talk about how we all can play in role in protecting animals big or small. We can all make small changes in our lives that can lead to a big impact and ensure that there are wild places and wild animals for future generations.”
The Canadian government announced last year that 2018 is the Canada-China Year of Tourism, aiming to encourage tourism to both countries. More than 610,000 Chinese tourists visited Canada in 2016, and as the only panda habitat in Canada, the Panda Passage is expected to draw more tourists to Alberta.
Er Shun and Da Mao, the two adult giant pandas from China will call the new panda pad home for the next five years. Twin cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, born at the Toronto Zoo in 2015, will spend 18 months in Calgary before they travel back to China to join a panda-breeding program. The foursome were transported safely to the Calgary Zoo on March 23 and remained in quarantine to acclimatize to their new environment and zookeepers until their big reveal today.