left: Clement Lanthier, Calgary Zoo CEO, right: Toronto Zoo's John Tracogna

left: Clement Lanthier, Calgary Zoo CEO, right: John Tracogna, Toronto Zoo CEO

After a deal 2 decades in the making between Canada and China, a pair of giant pandas are coming to The Toronto Zoo this spring 2013 from Chengdu, China. They will be on loan to the Toronto Zoo for 5 years followed by another 5 years at the Calgary Zoo. Er Shun and Da Mao will be flown in special containers for a 19,000 km trip via FedEx. FedEx has also committed to shipping 600 to 900 kilograms of bamboo to the zoo 3 times a week which is conveniently grown at FedEx’s shipping hub city in Memphis. What a huge commitment! Since one is female and the other is male, the obvious question is whether they will breed while in Toronto, but as the Toronto Zoo’s CEO explains in the video below, it depends on a lot of factors and there is a small window of opportunity for them to do so. So it all depends on luck.

On February 28th, there was an intimately small 250 person fundraising gala in support of the Toronto Zoo’s at the Shangri-La Hotel with honourary chair, Laureen Harper, wife to the Prime Minister of Canada’s, Stephen Harper. The evening started with a reception with an impressively tall, gigantic ice sculpture branded with the Toronto Zoo logo.

There was a live auction conducted by Stephen Ranger followed by Sean Jones and his band performed to round out the night. The night prior he was performing at the 1st industry night of the Canadian Screen Awards.

It’s great to see lots of cooperation among the zoos to make these giant pandas accessible to Canadians for 10 years.

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The Gala dinner’s menu folded into a cube, demonstrating Chinese “zhezhi”

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Laureen Harper

Laureen Harper

John Tracogna, Toronto Zoo CEO

John Tracogna, Toronto Zoo CEO

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Sean Jones and his band before going on stage

Sean Jones and his band before going on stage

Here is the Telus video that premiered at the Black and White gala at Shangri-La featuring Telus’ first use of digitally-rendered animals.

Notable tweets

For more information, check out the video interview on CTV’s Canada AM on the morning of the fundraising gala.

Lisa Lisson, FedEx Canada President , Toronto Zoo, John Tracogna, Toronto Zoo CEO, Laureen Harper, wife of PM Stephen Harper on Canada AM

Lisa Lisson, FedEx Canada President , Toronto Zoo, John Tracogna, Toronto Zoo CEO, Laureen Harper, wife of PM Stephen Harper on Canada AM

FedEx’s video about their “Panda Express”.

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Nick Lee

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