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Zoo gears up for panda-monium

The Toronto Zoo board and China have reached a deal to bring two pandas to Toronto.

The Toronto Zoo board and China have reached a deal to bring two pandas to Toronto.

They could cost as much as $20 million for the five years they will be here — not including all the bamboo shoots that they like to eat.

However, the deal is designed so that city taxpayers won’t foot the bill, according to Toronto Zoo board member Giorgio Mammoliti.

“We are trying to find a partner to fund the costs because we don’t want to see tax dollars used,” said Mammoliti, who was re-elected to city council last week.

The zoo board will begin searching for a private partner and Mammoliti said the federal government will be approached as well for funding.

Once the board approves the project, the deal will have to be approved by city council once the budget is approved next spring.

The bears will also spend five years at the Calgary Zoo and five at the Granby Zoo in Quebec, giving Canadians 15 years to see them.

Pandas are popular because of their docile, cuddly qualities and the fact that they are very visible in their zoo habitats.

“It’s been an exciting ride for me,” said Mammoliti, who has come under fire over the years for making expensive trips to China to negotiate the loan of the pandas.

“I received a lot of criticism, but I believed in the project back then,” Mammoliti said.

 
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