Visiting with pandas
Er Shun and Da Mao arrived in Toronto in March so I feel like a bit of a heel for not dropping in on them sooner. But thanks to Katie Grey at the Toronto Zoo we enjoyed some face time this past weekend. Obviously the bears are a tourist draw, the reason we ended up together is because the sister-in-law booked a trip from Montreal specifically to see the bears.
So, a few things I learned about pandas from Katie and from Vicky who is their principle zoo keeper. All pandas are property of Chine. In fact even if these two have a baby (and that could be complicated but more later) the cub will be property of the Chinese government. They aren't only ambassadors, they're big business. Panda's living outside of China are subject to an annual charge. These two will be in Canada for ten years, five in TO and five in Calgary. The pandas are living in separate quarters and haven't yet had any real face time. They each have indoor and outdoor space visible to the public. The female seems to prefer to hang out indoors, the male likes the fresh air. Every day they are offered fresh bamboo. They're picky eaters so they tend to leave plenty of it behind. And get this: what they do eat tends to weigh exactly the same when it comes out the other side. The reason we know this is because everything is weighed coming and going.
So about the probability of a baby panda: Da Mao, the male is kind of a preteen so even if Er Shun goes into heat next March -and that's something that lasts a fleeting two days- they may have to ship a little something in. These guys haven't even had a date yet so setting something up the natural way is rather complicated. Although apparently there is panda porn.
Check out the pics above of the pandas, Katie and a few other animals we met. Katie also took us on a tour behind the scenes to make it clear that there's a lot more than animals on display at the zoo. It's a giant working lab where they not only look after the animals but also supervise breading programs for endangered species and experiment with bringing back almost extinct species.
and they're open year round.