In September an airline announced it was discontinuing direct flights from China to Calgary starting October 31st. For travellers this news was inconvenient, for the Calgary Zoo and our giant pandas, it was devastating.
Since our four beloved giant pandas: Da Mao, Er Shun, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue are picky eaters, they need fresh bamboo. We have been fortunate to be able to source fresh bamboo directly from China. In fact, they collectively eat 1,200kg of bamboo per week. Facing a bamboo shortage without the ability to fly bamboo from Toronto to Calgary, the Calgary Zoo’s logistical team sprung into action searching for a new way to get the bamboo to Calgary.
As Calgary’s hometown airline, WestJet heard about the bamboo challenges and flew into action with the WestJet Cargo team offering to fly the bamboo shipments from Toronto to Calgary twice-weekly. Since our giant pandas don’t like wilted bamboo, this was fantastic news as WestJet Cargo also provides cool storage that ensures the pandas have access to the freshest bamboo possible.
Thanks to the airline, the first bamboo shipment arrived in Calgary on Saturday, October 26 and moving forward, shipments will arrive on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
We’re happy we were able to step in and support our friends at the Calgary Zoo through our cargo operations,” said Nicolas Saignat, WestJet Senior Commercial Manager, Cargo. “WestJet has a great love and appreciation for animals, and we are delighted to be able to assist in providing the freshest bamboo for Da Mao, Er Shun, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue who currently call Calgary home.”
“The Calgary Zoo team worked hard to find a solution to this challenging situation,” said Jamie Dorgan Director of Animal Care for the Calgary Zoo. “A big thank you to WestJet for helping us out, and to Hainan Airlines for their ongoing support by getting bamboo from China to Canada for our pandas”.