Calgary Zoo panda exhibit gets $10M from Alberta government

The Alberta government is kicking in $10 million to help bring a family of four pandas to Calgary, in a move designed to boost tourism to the city.

Panda family on loan from China coming to Calgary in 2018 from Toronto Zoo

Twins Jia Panpan (meaning Canadian Hope) and his sister Jia Yueyue (Canadian Joy) were born Oct. 13, 2015. (Toronto Zoo)

The Alberta government is kicking in $10 million to help bring a family of four pandas to Calgary, in a move designed to boost tourism to the city.

Two adult pandas and their twin cubs — on loan from China and currently residing at the Toronto Zoo — are coming to Calgary in 2018.

The Toronto Zoo's twin panda cubs are 100 days old, and now you can watch them grow in a new video released Wednesday. 1:03

The project is expected to cost $16.3 million, with the province, city, the zoo and its supporters all footing the bill.

The new exhibits are projected to boost tourism in Calgary by $16 million to $18 million in 2018, according to the provincial government, increasing the zoo's annual economic impact to more than $95 million.

"We are very excited and honoured that China's most beloved and iconic animals will call the Calgary Zoo their home away from home," Culture and Tourism Minister Ricardo Miranda said in a release.

"This $10-million investment will make panda-mania possible!" he added.

An estimated 200 new jobs are expected to be added during the construction phase, along with an estimated 40 new zoo-related jobs, he said.

The last time pandas came to the Calgary Zoo was in 1988, and the eight-month exhibit was credited with boosting visitation by 70 per cent over the previous year.

The baby pandas Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue were born in October 2015 to proud parents Er Shun and Da Mao.

The pandas — seen here with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — are an important part of so-called 'cuddly diplomacy' between Canada and China. (@JustinTrudeau/Twitter)

About the Author

Ayesha Clough

Reporter / Editor

Ayesha Clough joined the CBC Calgary digital team in 2015. She got her start in print at the Vancouver Sun back in 2004. Since then, she has worked in TV, radio and web for the CBC, BBC News in London, and Al Arabiya in Dubai.

With files from the CBC's Scott Dippel