Panda pact at risk if Toronto sells zoo, says councillor
Council thwarts potential buyers in 30-2 decision
Toronto Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti named two fuzzy reasons that the city-owned zoo should not fall into private hands — namely, that the change would jeopardize the panda pact that would see China lend a pair of its prized giant pandas to the Toronto and Calgary zoos.
Pandas to visit Toronto, Calgary
China promised to loan the pandas to the two Canadian zoos for five years each, following Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s trip to the country in February.
The pandas are expected to be a boon to tourism in both cities.
"We will lose the pandas if we even try to sell the zoo," argued Mammoliti.
Such resistance paid off Thursday, as council decided 30-2 to cancel the request for expressions of interest. Councillor Paul Ainslie, vice-chairman of the zoo board, was also against a potential deal and motioned to call off potential buyers.
The zoo board has been working to develop a not-for-profit model for several months.
Mayor Rob Ford, however, had been more open to putting the zoo on the market.
"I think we should keep all our doors open. Look at what we can get," he said in the lead-up to the vote.