Calgary

Giant pandas at Calgary Zoo begin journey home to China

The Calgary Zoo's two adult giant pandas, Da Mao and Er Shun, are embarking on the journey home to China three years earlier than expected after difficulty securing a consistent bamboo supply.

Male Da Mao and female Er Shun are in transport, according to zoo social media

Female giant panda Er Shun is embarking on the long journey home to China, according to Calgary Zoo social media. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The two giant pandas living at the Calgary Zoo are en route to China, according to the Calgary Zoo's Twitter account.

"Our awesome registrar team are pros at moving endangered species around the world safely, but pandemic Giant Panda travel created some unique challenges," reads the Twitter post. 

The pandas, adult female Er Shun and adult male Da Mao, were expected to be at the Calgary Zoo until 2023, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic there were issues sourcing a sustained supply of bamboo for them to eat. 

The Calgary Zoo said staff worked with the San Diego Zoo and Suncoast Nursery to arrange weekly shipments of fresh bamboo, but the process of finding the right bamboo has been expensive and time-consuming.

Da Mao, an adult male, eats about 40 kilograms of bamboo daily, and that plant had been hard to source due to the pandemic. (Calgary Zoo)

Throughout their trip home, each panda has about 100 kilograms of bamboo to munch on along with pears, apples and biscuits. 

On average, each giant panda consumes about 40 kilograms of bamboo daily. 

Previously, the zoo said it was waiting on permit approvals in order too be able to fly the pandas home.

Er Shun and Da Mao arrived in Calgary in 2018, along with cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, after spending five years at the Toronto Zoo.

The cubs were sent to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in January.

With files from Hannah Kost and The Canadian Press.

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