August 9, 2018 Calgary Zoo

Giant Pandas – What have we built?

Four giant pandas have made a home in Calgary! For their move to #yyc, the Calgary Zoo was proud to build them a beautiful, sustainable place to live with the help of Zeidler Architecture.

What can you expect to find in Panda Passage?

We are thrilled to have welcomed 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!

“Zeidler is extremely fortunate to have been involved in this one of a kind project! Working on the Panda exhibit, as well as our previous experience in working with the Zoo on Destination Africa, has been incredibly fulfilling. The opportunity to see a child’s expression when they get up close, face to face with a panda, certainly makes it all worthwhile. At Zeidler, we fully support the Calgary Zoo and their focus on wildlife conservation and sustainable initiatives through these incredible projects.” – Bill Mitchell, Partner at Zeidler Architecture.

As a conservation organization, the Calgary Zoo set out to use our resources in the most efficient way possible while we transformed 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!

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 – re-purposed 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 for another species.

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!

The space is also beautiful and functional for YOU. Our guests are 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.

The pandas have neighbours! The powerhouse Komodo dragons have returned to their home in the space, and the Bactrian camels now reside in the pasture attached to the building- with a brand new little addition to the camel family!

Have you visited yet?

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