TORONTO - It’s hoped that Toronto will foster panda love.
Er Shun, 6, and Da Mao, 5, arrived in Toronto from China on Monday where the male and female will undergo a routine 30-day quarantine before preparing for a big reveal at the Toronto Zoo in May.
And if all goes well, the pair will feel at home enough to breed, probably in 2014.
“I’m pretty sure that Er Shun and Da Mao will live happily here and I also hope they’ll soon produce some junior ‘kung fu’ pandas,” said Zhang Junsai, China’s ambassador to Canada.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed for the two giant pandas after a FedEx aircraft delivered them to Pearson airport Monday morning.
“It’s not everyday in your life that you get to sign for pandas,” said Harper, who was surrounded by a small crowd that included Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
Ben Miller, FedEx co-pilot for the Vancouver to Toronto leg of the 18-hour journey from Chengdu, China, said the animals were “great passengers” and “seemed to be enjoying themselves quite well.”
Meanwhile, a drove of media waited at the Toronto Zoo to catch the “panda” convoy that would finally bring the animals to their new home.
Cameras flashed as security vehicles accompanied two panda-themed FedEx trucks past cheering zoo staff and through an electronic gate.
Toronto’s cash-strapped zoo hopes the pandas will boost attendance numbers.
It was during a trade mission to China in February 2012 when Harper announced China would lend Canada the pandas.
But the announcement didn’t come without controversy: Some said in making the deals and accepting the pandas, Harper chose to ignore human rights abuses in China in favour of building stronger economic ties with the communist country. The Chinese government has long provided pandas to other nations as part of its efforts to strengthen international ties.
After five years at the Toronto Zoo, the pandas will be moved to the Calgary Zoo.
Please share this