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Canada Giant panda exhibit at Calgary Zoo opens Monday

16:09  07 may  2018
16:09  07 may  2018 Source:   calgaryherald.com

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The Calgary Zoo’s Panda Passage officially opens to visitors Monday, giving guests their first chance to see the four black and white bears that made the move from Toronto in March.

Male giant panda Da Mao and female Er Shun initially arrived in Canada in March 2013 on a 10-year loan from China, as part of a global giant panda conservation breeding program. The bears finished a five-year stay at the Toronto Zoo and will spend the next five years in Calgary. Er Shun gave birth to Jia Panpan (male) and Jia Yueyue (female) in 2015 in Toronto.

It’s been 30 years since pandas last visited Calgary. Their day-to-day care marks a major undertaking for the zoo, which added the $14-million Panda Passage complex for their arrival.  With adult pandas able to eat upwards of 38 kilograms of bamboo per day, the zoo has readied itself. Nine varieties of bamboo will be on the menu to fit each bear’s tastes, as two flights a week from China will deliver their meals.

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With an estimated 1,800 giant pandas in the wild, they are listed as a “vulnerable” species.

The family’s arrival is expected to increase attendance at the zoo by 25 per cent in the first year, boosting it to 1.5 million, with an economic impact of $18 million.

The zoo launched tiered ticket options to manage the expected increase in visitors, including the ability to choose a specific time in advance, at no extra cost, to see the animals. Zoo admission prices range from $19.95 to $34.95 depending on the day, in an effort to encourage guests to visit on less-busy days.

Here’s everything you need to know about the newest Calgary Zoo tenants before you meet them.

Er Shun

Born at the Chongqing Zoo in 2007, Er Shun is an adult female whose name means “Double Smoothness.” Her fur appears beige and is darker on the back. She is finer boned and has a smaller head than her adult male counterpart, and weighs roughly 97 kilograms.

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Er Shun has unique family ties to Calgary. Her grandmother spent half a year in the city on exchange back in 1988, according to signage at the Toronto Zoo’s former panda exhibit. Part of a breeding plan, the Calgary Zoo hopes to breed Er Shun during her stay. She is known for being a nurturing mother who often still participates in playtime with her two offspring, letting them wrestle her and steal her food.

Da Mao

The biggest of the four bears at almost 110 kilograms, Da Mao is an adult male recognized by his bright white fur and vocal nature. Born at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in 2008, his name means “First of Mao,” as he was his mother’s first-born cub.

Da Mao is known for his playful nature, having been the subject of many viral videos during his time in Toronto while fooling around with enrichment items and rolling in the snow. Compared with Er Shun, he is a picky eater who is quite selective of the bamboo he snacks on.

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Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue

The brother and sister pair, whose names mean “Canadian Hope” and “Canadian Joy,” respectively, are the first giant pandas born in Canada. Their birth in October 2015 resulted from artificial insemination procedures. Although too big now for cute photo-ops with the likes of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, they still have adorable characteristics. Jia Panpan is known for being cautious, but often cunning, and the one that instigates play with his sister.

Weighing 55 kilograms, he is recognized by his broad nose and oval eye patches, unlike Jia Yueyue who has square-shaped eye patches that extend to the bridge of her nose. Jia Yueyue, who weighs 50.5 kilograms, is considered the smart and curious one and enjoys various games and challenges. The siblings will stay in Calgary for two years, before moving to China in 2019.

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