Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

FILE – Giant panda Da Mao eats bamboo at the Toronto Zoo on Thursday, May 16, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
FILE – Panda Er Shun eats bamboo at the Panda House at the Chongqing Zoo in Chongqing, China on February 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Da Mao, an adult male panda bear, sleeps as media photograph him at the Calgary Zoo during the opening of its giant panda habitat, Panda Passage, in Calgary, Alta., Monday, May 7, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Da Mao, an adult male panda bear, looks on as media photograph him at the Calgary Zoo during the opening of its giant panda habitat, Panda Passage, in Calgary, Alta., Monday, May 7, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
FILE – Five-month-old panda cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue play in an enclosure at the Toronto Zoo, as they are exhibited to the media on Monday, March 7, 2016. The cubs were relocated to China in January 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

The Calgary Zoo is worried that two giant pandas whose return to China has been delayed for months will run out of food.

The zoo announced in May that its two giant pandas, Er Shun and Da Mao, were scheduled to be relocated back to China due to the country’s abundant supply of bamboo. In Canada, the zoo said the panda’s main food source has seen increased barriers to transportation.

The zoo currently sources its bamboo from B.C., but said on Wednesday (Aug. 5) that supply is expected to run out in September.

However, the zoo said China has not yet approved international travel permits for the two pandas due to changes to its import laws and quarantine facilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“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 and 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 two pandas initially arrive in Canada in 2014 as part of a 10-year deal with China. They spent the first five years at the Toronto Zoo, and then moved to Calgary in March 2018 with two cubs in tow. The cubs, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, returned to China in January of this year.

READ MORE: Giant panda family makes its Calgary Zoo debut


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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