All-You-Can-Eat Bamboo, Direct from China

Posted on April 30

Calgary, AB – The Calgary Zoo's giant pandas don't have to wait until their birthdays or major holidays to receive care packages from home. In fact, packages arrive twice a week from China thanks to the zoo's sponsorship deal with one of China's leading airlines. The Calgary Zoo today announces Hainan Airlines as the Panda Passage Official Carrier, for the next five years, transporting sustainably and ethically-harvested bamboo to feed the zoo’s four giant pandas.

“Bamboo is a crucial part of a panda’s diet, and it was essential for us to get it right,” says Matt Korhonen, Curator, Calgary Zoo. “As a wildlife conservation organization, it was important to us to know that the bamboo we were sourcing was responsibly harvested. Hosting the giant pandas is more than just about one species; we also have a duty to protect wild habitats.”

The bamboo is gathered from the high mountainous regions of the Sichuan province in China, where it is plentiful. After being collected by local harvesters, the bamboo is bundled and then transported to Beijing before being shipped on existing direct Hainan Airlines commercial flights to Calgary. The complete journey – from harvest to habitat – will take only about 48 hours.

“It’s our honour to be the exclusive carrier of bamboo for the four giant pandas in Calgary,” says Xinyuan Wang, General Manager, Hainan Airlines Calgary Branch. “This is the first time that pandas outside of China will be able to enjoy bamboo from their home country. As a global airline, rated five-star by SKYTRAX for seven consecutive years, Hainan Airlines continues to focus on sustainable development, responsible products and comprehensive services. We are so proud to be able to support wildlife conservation efforts and look forward to more opportunities to do so.”

This bamboo source was chosen due to its high quality, as well as having the volume needed to feed four adult pandas. Different types will be harvested in different seasons to accommodate the pandas and their unique dietary needs. Due to the large volume required, neither the type, or quantity, of bamboo needed to feed four giant pandas is available in North America.

Specially designed coolers in Panda Passage will keep the bamboo at the right temperature year-round. While classified as carnivores, pandas have evolved and adapted to a diet consisting mostly of bamboo, and it is anticipated that the foursome will each consume about 40-kilograms of bamboo per day to garner the necessary nutrients from the plant.

Da Mao, Er Shun and her cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue arrived in Calgary on March 23, 2018 from the Toronto Zoo. The Calgary Zoo is delighted to host these international symbols of wildlife conservation for five years as part of an international agreement signed by the Chinese and Canadian governments in 2012. Panda Passage officially opens to the public on May 7, 2018.

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Trish Exton-Parder
Lead, Media Relations
Calgary Zoo
Phone: 403.232.9325
[email protected]