Chengdu Pandas stranded in Canada after pandemic strikes

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Calgary Zoo in Canada announced on Wednesday a pair of loaned Chinese pandas, which should have been returned ahead of schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic, are stranded and have to face a food supply strain.

The delay comes because the transportation sector has been hit hard by the pandemic, and the zoo cannot send the pandas back to China at this time.

Fresh bamboo for the duo is currently purchased by the zoo from British Columbia on Canada’s west coast, but the zoo said the supply can only last through September.

The situation is endangering the panda’s health, zoo president and CEO Clement Lanthier said.

The zoo said on May 12 the sharp decline in international flights posed a challenge to the transport of fresh bamboo, and the quality of bamboo cannot be ensured.

Lanthier said the zoo had to make a difficult decision to return the two pandas earlier, because the safest place for pandas is where there is an ample supply of bamboo.

In March 2013, Da Mao, then a 4-year-old male from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan province, and Er Shun, a 5-year-old female from Chongqing Zoo in Sichuan’s neighboring Chongqing municipality, left China for Canada. They were scheduled to stay 10 years under a conservation agreement between the two countries.

The pair spent five years at Toronto Zoo and then were moved to Calgary Zoo for another five. The arrangement allowed both zoos to contribute to international efforts to increase the population of endangered pandas.

Er Shun was artificially inseminated and gave birth to a pair of cubs at Toronto Zoo in October 2015. The two cubs, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, whose names mean Canadian Hope and Canadian Joy, are the first pair of cubs born in Canada. In March 2018, they moved to Calgary Zoo with their parents, bringing a record number of visitors.

In April 2019, Er Shun again underwent artificial insemination at Calgary Zoo, but she failed to conceive. In January, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue returned to the Chengdu panda base, as per the agreement between China and Canada.

SOURCE : China Daily

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