Prime Minister Harper today visited the Toronto Pearson International Airport to witness the arrival of two giant pandas from China. The two pandas – female Er Shun and male Da Mao – will be staying in Canada for the next 10 years and will be splitting their time between the Toronto Zoo, who will host them first, and the Calgary Zoo. He was joined by Mrs. Laureen Harper and Zhang Junsai, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Canada.
“It is a great honour to be entrusted with Er Shun and Da Mao, two of China’s national treasures,” said the Prime Minister. “Their presence in Canada today and for the next ten years will remind us of the strong relationship between our countries and will delight the many Canadians who will visit the zoos to see them.”
The agreement between the Toronto and Calgary zoos and the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens, which was facilitated by the Government of Canada, will see both giant pandas live in each facility for two subsequent five-year periods. Included in the agreement is a commitment by each of the zoos to invest in research and conservation of the species.
For the first time in over 20 years, Canada is now once again home to giant pandas. The Calgary, Toronto and Winnipeg zoos all hosted giant pandas for short-terms stays on separate occasions during the 1980s.
Giant pandas are unique to China and serve as unofficial national mascots. They are seen as symbols of peace, friendship and good fortune.
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