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Calgary Zoo worried giant pandas 'in jeopardy' as bamboo supply running out

Worry for Calgary's pandas

Time and food supplies are running out for two giant pandas at the Calgary Zoo.

Er Shun and Da Mao arrived in Calgary in 2018, along with cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, after spending five years at the Toronto Zoo. The cubs were returned to China in January and their parents were to remain in Calgary until 2023.

Calgary Zoo president Clement Lanthier said the facility spent months trying to overcome transportation barriers in acquiring fresh bamboo. Officials decided in May that it was best for the animals to be home in China, where their main food source is abundant.

But he said China hasn't been able to approve international permits, as the COVID-19 pandemic created changes to import laws and animal quarantine facilities.

"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," Lanthier said in a release Wednesday.

"The continued delays in international permitting is putting the health and welfare of these two beautiful giant pandas in jeopardy."

Giant pandas have unique nutritional requirements and 99 per cent of their diet is made up of fresh bamboo. Each adult consumes about 40 kilograms daily.

Lanthier said the zoo originally had contingency plans for a steady supply of fresh bamboo, but limits on flights from China was the first problem. Transporting more of the food from California added even more frustration.

He said the animals didn't like some kinds of bamboo and other supplies that arrived were past their expiry.

Lanthier said the zoo is only able to source fresh bamboo reliably from British Columbia, and that supply is expected to run out in September.

The pandas are in good health and receiving exceptional care, he added.

But if there's any chance that the zoo can't get bamboo to the pandas, he said he wants to get the pandas to bamboo.



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