Advertisement

Panda pair arrive in Toronto

TORONTO – Two pandas destined for the Toronto Zoo have arrived in Toronto.

The pair of bears landed in Vancouver early Monday morning after before flying across the country aboard a customized FedEx MD11 jet.

Five-year-old female Er Shun and four-year-old Da Mao received a VIP welcome Monday morning when they arrived in Toronto.

Prime minister Stephen Harper and China’s ambassador to Canada, Zhang Junsai, greeted the bears at an airport hangar.

The panda pair will spend the next five years at the Toronto Zoo and then another five years at the Calgary Zoo.

The hope is that the two will breed. According to the Toronto Zoo, female pandas only have one reproductive cycle each year and typically produce offspring only once every second year.

Story continues below advertisement
“Artificial insemination in giant pandas is as effective as natural breeding with pregnancy rates close to 60 per cent,” explained Dr. Gaby Mastromonaco at Toronto Zoo, in a release. “Living offspring have been produced with fresh, cooled and frozen-thawed sperm. This technique will be implemented to enhance breeding outcomes while our pair is with us in Toronto.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper waiting along with Chinese officials to greet the two pandas at Toronto's Pearson Airport. Jeremy Cohn / Global News
A veiled look at one of the pandas that are staying at the Toronto Zoo. when they arrived in March. Jeremy Cohn / Global News
A veiled look at one of the pandas that will be staying at the Toronto Zoo. Jeremy Cohn / Global News
Stephen Harper speaks in front of the FedEx plane that brought the two pandas to Toronto. Jeremy Cohn / Global News
The FedEx plane that brought the two pandas to Toronto. Jeremy Cohn / Global News
Da Mao enjoys a mid-flight snack en route to Toronto. Handout

Giant pandas, native to central China’s mountain ranges, are endangered due to deforestation and development. There are an estimated 1,600 remaining in the wild and nearly 300 in captivity.

Er Shun and Da Mao, who only met before the 15-hour flight, are making the 12,875-kilometre journey from Chengdu to Toronto aboard a customized FedEx jet dubbed the “Panda Express.” The bears are supervised en route by a veterinarian and two attendants and the plane is stocked with 100 kilograms of bamboo, 150 kilograms of bamboo shoots, 50 kilograms of apples and 15 kilograms of fresh water.

Story continues below advertisement

Toronto Zoo plans to raise admission prices when they pandas go on public display in May.

Sponsored content