Yet another tragic result of the COVID-19 pandemic has been announced today.
The Calgary Zoo issued a release stating that it would be sending its two giant pandas back to China early, as it has been having trouble importing the amount of bamboo needed to keep Er Shun and Da Mao fed.
The two giant pandas had been on a 10-year loan to Canada from China, and after having spent five of those years at they Toronto Zoo, they were transported to the Calgary Zoo in 2019 to see out the rest of their visit.
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Unfortunately, the Calgary Zoo has been having difficulty transporting fresh bamboo in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, and has made the difficult decision to send the pandas to the bamboo instead.
“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 the 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.”
A total of 99% of a giant pandas diet relies on fresh bamboo, and one adult giant panda eats about 40 kg of the stuff every day.
The release states that supply lines have been “destroyed” during the pandemic, and while they had originally pivoted to shipping bamboo from China to Toronto and then to Calgary, delivery times have been slow, bamboo quality poor, and the Calgary Zoo became worried that their limited supply might not last.
“I am continually amazed by the resourcefulness and dedication of our team,” said Lanthier in the release.
“Unfortunately, they are fighting against forces much greater than the Calgary Zoo. Even the Canadian government had to fly empty planes out of China.”
Calgarians are invited to say a virtual goodbye to the two giant pandas through the Zoo’s PandaCam, which will continue for a limited time.