While talks continue over the possibility of pandas coming to the Calgary Zoo, the facility’s track record of deaths may hinder its chances of hosting the rare animals, according to one critic.
Julie Woodyer, campaign director of Zoocheck Canada, said the Chinese government has a strict selection process when it comes to loaning out the endangered bears.
“I can’t even imagine why China would even allow them to import the animals for display,” said Woodyer.
However, Calgary Zoo spokesperson Laurie Herron does not anticipate that the zoo’s history of animal loss will prevent the pandas from coming.
“We’ve had a couple of unfortunate incidents for sure that we’ve been very public about,” she said. “We had pandas here before, 22 years ago, and they were fine, they did well.”
Herron said that while the discussions are still in the preliminary stages, the zoo would take all the necessary steps to properly care for the pandas if they were to come.
“The space (the pandas) were in before is old now, so chances are we would have to build something new for them,” she said.
Woodyer said that before the zoo can bring in any more animals, she believes they need to deal with existing problems.
“I think they’re in way over their head already,” she said. “Now you’re talking about bringing in a highly endangered species.”
The Calgary Zoo’s string of deaths include 43 stingrays, a wild goat, a capybara, a baby elephant and a hippo in transit. It has also had to deal with escaped snakes, a gorilla with an edged weapon, and the near escape of another gorilla.
Herron said she does not know when a decision may be reached regarding the pandas.