The Calgary Zoo announced today that it has not yet been able to secure international travel permits yet to relocate giant pandas, “Er Shun” and “Da Mao”, back to China, expressing increasing concerns for the giant pandas’ well-being.
Giant pandas have unique nutritional requirements: 99% of their diet is made up of fresh bamboo and each adult giant panda consumes approximately 40kg of bamboo daily. Since the start of the global pandemic, the Calgary Zoo has seen changes in transportation destroy the bamboo supply lines they have depended on since the giant pandas’ arrival in Calgary.
In May, the Calgary Zoo announced that it would be relocating giant pandas, “Er Shun” and “Da Mao”, back to China where bamboo is local and abundant as the transportation barriers for fresh bamboo became increasingly more challenging to overcome. To date, China has not been able to approve international permits due to changes in its import laws and quarantine facilities due to COVID-19.
“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 & CEO Dr. Clément Lanthier. “The continued delays in international permitting is putting the health and welfare of these two beautiful giant pandas in jeopardy.”
The Calgary Zoo is currently only able to source fresh bamboo reliably from British Columbia, and this supply is expected to run out in September.
The pandas are in good health and receiving exceptional care. The team at the Calgary Zoo have built a loving and caring relationship with the two giant pandas and feels their safety and well-being is in jeopardy. If there is any chance that the Zoo cannot bring bamboo to the pandas, the Zoo wants to bring the pandas to the bamboo.
Er Shun and Da Mao arrived in Canada in 2014 as part of a 10-year agreement between Canada and China. After spending 5-years at the Toronto Zoo, the two adult giant pandas arrived at the Calgary Zoo in March 2018 with cubs, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue. The cubs returned to China in January 2020.