The Calgary Zoo announced Monday that its giant panda habitat will open to the public on May 7.
The two adult pandas and two young pandas, Jian Panpan and Jia Yueyue, are expected to arrive in the city in March after five years in Toronto. They will spend the next five years in Calgary.
The zoo said the habitat – dubbed Panda Passage – took years of planning and resulted in $100 million in upgrades to the zoo.
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“Not only is Panda Passage the most unique animal habitat we’ve ever created, but we’ve renovated every corner of the zoo,” Dr. Clément Lanthier said about the space.
“It’s very tropical, very lush,” added curator Colleen Baird. “Pandas need a lot of humidity, so we have a lot of humidity factors going on and trees and plants and greens.”
Baird said the zoo is putting the final touches on the habitat now before the animals arrive.
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Lanthier said the zoo expects to see a 25 per cent increase in visitors over the five years the pandas will be in Calgary.
The zoo expects 1.5 million people will visit the pandas in their first full year in Calgary and that the black and white animals will “create an $18 million economic impact for Calgary.”
It said Monday that the panda habitat is the culmination of “four years of significant projects stretching across the zoo.”
Upgrades to the zoo included an $8 million lemur habitat in 2017, a new suspension bridge, updated food concessions and additions to prehistoric park and the Canadian Wilds habitat.