The giant pandas are finally on their way home from the Calgary Zoo.
The pandemic caused much chaos when it effectively shut down businesses and travel, putting a strain on the zoo’s supply of bamboo for their two resident pandas.
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Both animals are on loan from China and spent five years in Toronto between 2014 and 2019 before flying to Calgary for another expected five-year stay.
That visit was cut short by the pandemic, as the zoo announced in May its plans to fly both pandas back to China so that they have easier access to bamboo — which accounts for 99% of their diet — as the Calgary Zoo’s supply line of bamboo was broken by coronavirus-caused transportation barriers.
“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, in a May 12 release.
“This was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but the health and well-being of the animals we love and care for always comes first.”
Following difficulty securing the international permit needed to fly the animals back home to China, the Calgary Zoo finally managed to get the proper paperwork in order.
Er Shun and Da Mao are on their way back to China as of Friday, November 27, according to a recent post on the Calgary Zoo’s Facebook page.
“After months and months of hard work to secure international permits to get our beloved giant pandas home to China, TODAY is the day!” the post states.
“A huge thank you to our amazing partners at YYC Calgary International Airport and International Animal Lounge YYC for being part of the beginning of Er Shun and Da Mao’s journey home today.”
Other recent posts from the zoo show the crates that the pandas are being shipped in and the piles of paperwork needed to make the journey happen.
“Our awesome Registrar team are pros at moving endangered species around the world safely, but pandemic Giant Panda travel created some unique challenges: CITES Re-Export Permits, CITES Import Permits, CFIA Federal Health Certificates, China Import Permits, Customs Documents, CERS Export Declarations, Shipper’s Certificates, Waybills, Giant Panda Insurance, Specimen Reports, Medical Reports, Vaccination and Deworming Records….and this doesn’t include the Attendant’s documents!” reads the post.
Safe travels, Er Shun and Da Mao!