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Live Online replay: The star power of pandas

Categories: Canada, Community

 Torontonians admire visiting pandas in 1985. (Mike Blake/Canadian Press)When Er Shun and Da Mao arrived at Pearson airport on their own private flight, the Chinese ambassador to Canada referred to the pair as VIPs -- Very Important Pandas.

The little quip does not appear to be an exaggeration.

The pair was not only greeted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, but also escorted to their custom made home at the Toronto Zoo by a four car convoy.

For the next ten years, fresh bamboo will be regularly flown in for the rare bears, and zoo staff will do their best to encourage them to have a baby panda on Canadian soil.

Meantime, they will munch, nap and roll their way into many hearts and social media posts.

Whether or not you're fascinated by the plump visitors, there's no denying that their visit -- which follows about a decade of negotiation -- is premised on their celebrity status.

This week on CBC Live Online, host Lauren O'Neil spoke to special guests about the symbolism and logistics of hosting two of China's national treasures, and what exactly it will take to shelter, feed, and otherwise host the pandas for a full decade.

Our special guests this week :

  • Maria Franke: the Toronto Zoo's curator of mammals
  • Oliver Claffey: a member of the team of zookeepers that looked after the pandas who visited Toronto in 1985
  • Raymond Cho: Toronto councillor who was instrumental in negotiating to bring the pandas to Canada
  • Adrian Grundy: spokesman for FedEx Canada who helped coordinate their flight from China

Tags: animals, Canada, CBC Live Online, community

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