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Panda habitat at heart of Calgary Zoo prepares for spring opening
A new exhibit that was built to house four giant pandas from China will open in May and officials say Panda Passage is the most unique animal habitat they have ever created.
Adult pandas Er Shun and Da Mao and cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue will be coming to Calgary in the spring and will stay for five years.
Zoo officials say they expect to see a 25 percent increase in the number of visitors the first year the pandas are here and have spent $100 million in upgrades to facilities to improve the experience for guests.
“Isn’t it great? We’ve been waiting for five or six years, planning for this, building that space but they’re coming next month. They’ll be arriving in Calgary in March,” said Dr. Clément Lanthier, President and CEO, Calgary Zoo. “We need a couple of weeks, they need a couple of weeks, to get used to the keepers, the space, the smell, the sound, the new food.”
The renovations include the $8 million Land of Lemurs habitat that was opened in 2017 and upgrades to food kiosks, viewing areas, pathways, parking lots and playgrounds.
“We just completed the flood mitigation measures around the island so everything is ready. We’re ready to get those Chinese stars in the coming weeks,” said Lanthier. “Soon people will be able to see the moon gate leading to the Panda Passage.”
An international agreement was signed between China and Canada in 2012 to bring the pandas to Calgary and zoo officials say they will help create awareness about wildlife conservation.
Panda Passage will open at the zoo on May 7, 2018.