The Toronto Zoo is not for sale.

Just a few days after the City of Toronto took a step toward selling or leasing Canada's largest zoo, council voted overwhelmingly to bring the process to a halt.

Panda pact raised as deterrent to sale

Toronto Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti named two fuzzy reasons that the city-owned zoo should not fall into private hands — that the change would jeopardize the panda pact, which would see China lend a pair of its prized giant pandas to the Toronto and Calgary zoos.

"We will lose the pandas if we even try to sell the zoo," argued Mammoliti.

The city issued a request for expressions of interest on Monday, with Mayor Rob Ford saying he'd "love" to see the zoo sold at a profit for taxpayers.

However, a motion by Coun. Paul Ainslie on Thursday to cancel the request was supported by council 30-2, with only Ford and Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday voting against.

The facility has more than 5,000 animals spread over almost 300 hectares of land.

Coun. Gloria Lindsay Luby, a member of the zoo board of management, has said she would like to see a zoological society take over the Toronto Zoo.

Selling off the city's zoos was part of independent auditor KPMG 's suggestions in a comprehensive document released in 2011 meant to find savings in the city's budget.