In March 2013, Er Shun and Da Mao arrived at the Toronto Zoo as part of a Global Giant Panda Conservation Breeding Program. On the morning of October 13, 2015, the Toronto Zoo announced that Er Shun had given birth to the first giant panda cubs born in Canada.
Today, the Toronto Zoo proudly hosted a second birthday celebration for our giant panda cubs. Jia Panpan (Canadian Hope) and Jia Yueyue (Canadian Joy) were treated to a festive birthday party including enrichment created by the Zoo’s Giant Panda Keepers. This will be the giant panda cubs’ last birthday celebrated at the Toronto Zoo before leaving for Calgary Zoo in March 2018.
“The Toronto Zoo is thrilled to be hosting this second-year birthday celebration for our giant panda cubs,” said John Tracogna, Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Zoo. “We are grateful to all of the major partners who continue to support the ongoing success of our giant panda program, including the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens, Chengdu Research Base of Giant Pandas, Chongqing Zoo, State Forestry Administration of China and the Canadian Embassy in Beijing.
Toronto Zoo Keepers have had the unique opportunity to experience the growth and development of these rare twin cubs over the past two years, and there have been challenges balanced with joyous moments that have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of the dedicated and professional staff having the pleasure to work with the giant pandas. Both cubs continue to grow each day, with Jia Panpan weighing 52kg and Jia Yueyue weighing 49kg. The giant panda cubs still nurse from Er Shun, but the majority of their diet is now made up of bamboo. Jia Panpan can be described as an outgoing cub, who loves to play and instigate wrestling matches with both Er Shun and his sister. Jia Yueyue is a little more independent, although she loves to participate and play, she will often quietly remove herself from the commotion and watch the fun while relaxing at a distance.
This birthday celebration is a perfect opportunity to highlight the success of the Global Giant Panda Conservation Breeding Program. A true indication of this collective success, the giant panda was downgraded in 2016 from “endangered” to “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This positive shift remains a primary goal of all species protection plans, and a significant focus of efforts and educational messaging by accredited and responsible zoological organizations globally.
The Toronto Zoo is honoured to be part of this ongoing success story for the giant pandas, and will continue tirelessly supporting and leading the many other species survival programs to maintain healthy and prolific populations within the animal kingdom for generations to come. We also want to thank our major corporate sponsors including Mandarin Restaurants, TELUS, FedEx Canada and Toronto Star for their ongoing support of the Giant Panda Experience.
Don’t forget to come out to see the Giant Pandas before they leave for the Calgary Zoo in March 2018!