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Chinese pandas stuck in Canada as fresh bamboo supplies run low

by qualityeducation
A giant panda at the Calgary Zoo. The zoo does not provide details whether it is Er Shun and Da Mao. (Photo from the Calgary Zoo Facebook account)

HONG KONG: A zoo in Canada is desperately trying to secure travel documents so two giant pandas can return to China after the coronavirus pandemic severely disrupted their access to fresh bamboo.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Calgary Zoo said flight cancellations and slow delivery times limit the supply of bamboo, and it often arrives in poor quality.

The unpredictable bamboo supply is creating worries at the zoo that the pandas, named Er Shun and Da Mao, may run out of food. They are currently in good health.

“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,” Calgary Zoo president Clement Lanthier said.

Giant pandas feed on bamboo almost exclusively, and each adult chews through about 40 kilogrammes of the plant every day. The zoo still has access to fresh bamboo from the western Canadian province of British Columbia, but it expects the supply will run out in September.

In May, the Calgary Zoo announced its intention to return the pandas to China but it has struggled to secure travel permits for the pandas because of new Covid-19 import laws and quarantine restrictions in China.

Zhang Zhihe, director of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, in southwest China, said in May that they were ready to receive the pandas.

Er Shun and Da Mao arrived in Canada in 2013 as part of a 10-year agreement between Canada and China. They spent five years at the Toronto Zoo and arrived in Calgary in March 2018 with their cubs, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, who are already back in China.

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