Work on the new Panda Passage habitat at the Calgary Zoo is on schedule for the highly anticipated arrival of four pandas, the zoo announced Wednesday.
The pandas are currently at the Toronto Zoo and twin cubs were born in Canada in October 2015, they’re expected to arrive in Calgary in 2018.
Crews have so far completed the installation of underground utility lines to service the new facility. Demolition has also been completed and framing is underway on some of the planned retail buildings to accommodate the expected 20 per cent increase in visitors.
Meanwhile, renovations to the Eurasian Gateway Building – formerly home to the zoo’s rhinos and Komodo dragons – have begun and will continue throughout the spring. The re-purposed building will house the interior elements of the panda habitat.
“I am thrilled – as I imagine all Albertans are – that these furry, fun-loving bears are coming to our province,” said Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism.
The Alberta government announced $10 million for the development of the Panda Passage in 2016 and the City of Calgary contributed $8.15 million in funding.
“Preparations are well underway across the zoo to host this iconic vulnerable species, which will have significant economic and tourism impact both in Calgary and Alberta,” Clément Lanthier the Calgary Zoo’s president said.
About 200 construction workers are involved in the development of the panda habitat and related infrastructure. In addition, the project will create an estimated 40 zoo-related jobs in the Calgary region.