BACK TO BLOG

April 13, 2018 Calgary Zoo

Panda Passage – what have we built? 

Surprise! The giant bamboo that lines the giant panda habitats is actually made of steel!

Four giant pandas are making a new home in Calgary! Their move to #yyc means the Calgary Zoo wanted to build them a beautiful, sustainable place to live. 

What can you expect to find in Panda Passage? 

We are thrilled to welcome pandas in 2018 for a five-year stay. Giant pandas have a specific habitat in China, and part of caring for this important ambassador species at the zoo is ensuring the bears have a home that suits their needs. Thank you to Zeidler Architecture for their incredible work as lead architects of this huge project- building Panda Passage was no small feat!

As a conservation organization, the Calgary Zoo set out to use our resources in the most efficient way possible. Working with partners, PCL construction, we have been transforming the Eurasian Gateway building for the last two years. The Panda Passage building will be seeking Petal Certification as part of the Living Building Challenge (LBC), which provides a framework for design, construction and the symbiotic relationship between people and all aspects of the built environment. This will be the first LBC project in Calgary! 

Dr. Clement Lanthier, CEO and President of the Calgary Zoo, speaks about the construction of Panda Passage.

In 2017, Panda Passage had already undergone major construction. Panda Passage opens on May 7!

What does this mean for the building of Panda Passage? Some of the sustainability actions we took: 

  • Anything in good working condition stayed in the building, like doorknobs and lighting fixtures. 
  • Steel pipes were reused from the rhinoceros back-of-house and themed to look like bamboo- they function as barriers inside the habitat.  
  • Large trees in the habitats? Those are deadfall collected from the zoo’s Flood Protection Project – repurposed as panda enrichment!  
  • Any new wood purchased is Forest Stewardship Counsel (FSC) certified – we are taking action to preserve forests of the future.  
  • Pandas will be at the zoo for five years, so we built the space while keeping in mind its future transition into a home another species.  
New skylights open up the inside of Panda Passage.

The Eurasian Gateway building had less natural light than we liked, so our team opened up the space with beautiful new skylights.

Caring for pandas is a challenge, and ensuring that they are healthy and mentally stimulated is part of the equation. There are new water features, plenty of lush flora, and natural lighting. Keep an eye out for the beautiful new skylights that have really brightened up the space – and our red bamboo forest! 

Beautiful lanterns hang in our new Panda Passage gift shop.

Beautiful lanterns hang in our new Panda Passage gift shop.

The space is also beautiful and functional for YOU. Our guests will be able to visit the bears, learn the history of pandas from our signage and screens, and interact with our Visitor Engagement staff. There are a variety of viewing options for the giant pandas, depending on where Jia Panpan, Jia Yueyue, Da Mao and Er Shun are spending their time. 

Foliage in the giant panda habitat.

The pandas habitats have no shortage of green!

The pandas will have neighbours! The powerhouse Komodo dragons will be returning to their home in the space, and the Bactrian camels will once again reside in the pasture attached to the building.  


We can’t wait to welcome our zoo family into the space- in less than 25 days!

Engage and Inspire zoo members get a home-court advantage with fun sneak peeks and member previews from April 27- May 5 – which means panda visits before anyone else.

Panda Passage opens May 7!

Tagged: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *