Two pandas at the Calgary Zoo face bamboo shortage as Canada struggles to return them to China
In an update to our previous feature story, pandas still face bamboo shortage. Moreover, the government has still been unable to secure flights back for the two. Er Shun and Da Mao remain in Canada, still without international travel permits. The Calgary Zoo was looking since May to repatriate them to China, because the pandemic disrupted shortages of bamboo. Since pandas only eat bamboo that is fresh, this usually comes from China. With lockdown measures, importing bamboo is now out of the question and the zoo must rely on limited Canadian supply.
When in May the Calgary Zoo announced it was relocating the pandas to China, it seemed the most natural choice. Yet, despite frequent collaboration between the Canadian and Chinese government on the matter, the international permits did not arrive. Calgary Zoo president Clément Lanthier said in a statement that the ‘continued delays in international permitting’ is effectively endangering the welfare of the these animals.
Nonetheless, the zoo remains committed to ensure the two pandas receive exceptional care. Er Shun and Da Mao arrived in late 2014 as part of China’s ‘panda diplomacy‘ and were supposed to stay for 10 years. Given the majestic size of the pandas, it is becoming exceptionally difficult to provide them daily with the 40 kg of bamboo required. Another supply in British Columbia is to run out in September.