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Giant pandas leaving Calgary Zoo due to bamboo shortage

Last Updated May 13, 2020 at 6:16 am MST

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Some sad news from the Calgary Zoo as its beloved pandas are heading home to China three years sooner than planned.

According to the Calgary Zoo, issues with transporting fresh bamboo led to the difficult decision to say goodbye.

“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.

“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.”

The diet for giant pandas consists mostly of fresh bamboo with an adult panda consuming 40 kilograms (88 pounds) a day.

However, in the past couple months, the zoo has seen changes in transportation destroy the bamboo supply lines they depend on.

Last year, WestJet stepped up to move bamboo from Toronto to Calgary after direct flights from China were cancelled.

The team at the Calgary Zoo has worked tirelessly with alternate bamboo suppliers to find a way to keep the giant pandas fed, despite misdirected shipments, slower than acceptable delivery times causing some poor quality bamboo that the giant pandas won’t eat, and concern with limited supplies.

“I am continually amazed by the resourcefulness and dedication of our team,” said Lanthier.

“Unfortunately, they are fighting against forces much greater than the Calgary Zoo. Even the Canadian government had to fly empty planes out of China.”

Er Shun and Da Mao arrived in Canada in 2014 as part of a 10-year agreement between Canada and China.

The pair spent five years in Toronto before arriving at the Calgary Zoo in March 2018.

Calgarians are encouraged to offer a virtual farewell to the pandas through the Calgary Zoo’s PandaCam.