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Readers criticize coverage of pandas' arrival in Toronto

Categories: Canada, Community

Yesterday, CBCNews.ca published an article asking "Why are we fascinated with pandas?" And many CBC readers replied to let us know that they were emphatically not. 

  • "Just popped into the comment section to state that we are all not fascinated with pandas, and for the first time I can actually say that I'm commenting without even reading the article," said Viajante.

  • "Me too, saw the headline and asked myself 'we are?' I am fascinated with why the media thinks the public is fascinated with this subject. They are the ones whom are bombarding us with such content," replied Western Canadian.

  • "I remember quite clearly when I was on a project in China, one day visiting the Chengdu Zoo in Szechuan, where there are a number of pandas. If one worries about keeping animals in zoos as I do, it was a disturbing sight. I don't know why pandas seem so popular, but they are just like any other animal that deserves to be free and not treated like a political pawn," said Squirly Girl.

  • "Although pandas are adorable, cute, cuddly, I would never go see them. Pictures are fine for me. I do not believe in using animals for display or entertainment. While funds are supposed to be tight, I just wonder how much it cost us: to pay China, to bring them here, to maintain them," said jamqueen

The top-rated comment on our story about the pandas' arrival echoes this concern about the cost, referencing the government's cancelling of the Experimental Lakes Area in northern Ontario

  • "$10 million for cute pandas. World-class fresh water research not so much," said Merkin Muffley

For the record, the government says it isn't paying anything to host the pandas in Canada. Henry Nicholls, author of The Way of the Panda, says zoos will typically pay $1 million per pair per year, although the figure can vary. The Toronto Zoo has spent $8 million on a new enclosure and is expected to spend $2 million a year on maintenance. 

There were a few in our comments who defended the cost of bringing the pandas over from China and keeping them in Canadian zoos. 

  • "I would suspect that taxes generated from tourism would more than cover the cost of keeping these animals in Canada," said bochdan.

  • "In the summer of 1985, two giant pandas on loan from China spent 100 days at the Toronto Zoo. Upwards of 1 million people paid the pair a visit and the zoo made $13.7 million in revenue that year, up from $7.5 million in panda-less 1984. I suspect the Zoo will pull in about $20 million extra per year from the pandas," said HarperIsRight.

  • "Welcome, pandas. This will be a great education for our children, and will generate a lot more money for the zoo than the cost of the upkeep. Win win," said b.c. terry

Some dismissed Harper's greeting of the pandas as a photo op. 

  • "Woodland caribou are facing extirpation in northeast Alberta due habitat loss resulting from human activities, including oil sands development. Wolves are being slaughtered as scapegoats. But the Harper Canada uses these pandas as a photo op," said EOttawa.

In our story about the Cree youth who finished that trek yesterday, called "The Journey of Nishiyuu," some commenters also mentioned the pandas' arrival and the contrast in political and media attention. 

  • "Awesome. I wish I could be there to greet each and every one of them. Much more inspiring than a couple of pandas from China, any day," said Lyrita.

  • "Congratulations to this inspired group of people, travelling a route that is over 6,000 years old! And while these courageous and dedicated folks arrive by foot on Parliament Hill, our disgraceful "leader" Harper will have flown to Toronto to greet two Chinese panda bears," said WilliamBrixton.

  • "OK, stop picking on Harper. If he had been there, people would have said he was looking for a photo op. He doesn't show and it's 'Where's Harper?' Gee, the guy can't win. Well, except at the polls of course. Congrats to the young people though. This is the kind of leadership that will hopefully prevail to bring First Nations through their issues. Blocking roads and rails do nothing to further their cause. Leadership does," said Halifax Writer

Thank you for all your comments. 

Tags: animals, CBC, Community, Community Reaction, Politics

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