Calgary Zoo in Canada announced on Tuesday that a pair of loaned Chinese pandas Er Shun and Da Mao would be returned ahead of schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fans could bid farewell to Da Mao and Er Shun by watching a livestream on the zoo's website, it said.
The pandemic has hit the transportation sector hard in the past two months. The sharp decline in international flights has posed a challenge to the transportation of fresh bamboo, and the quality of bamboo cannot be ensured, it said. The park said it has made great efforts to overcome the problem, but there is still the risk of a second wave of the outbreak there, and getting fresh bamboo supplies continues to be a challenge.
Zoo President and CEO Clement Lanthier said the zoo had to make a very difficult decision because the safest place for pandas is where there is an ample supply of bamboo that they can get to easily.
The animals feed on fresh bamboo, which is especially flown in for them from China. But with the novel coronavirus outbreak disrupting flights, fresh supplies have got delayed. According to the zoo staff, the pandas are fussy eaters and will reject bamboo that has spent a lot of time in transit.
In March 2013, Da Mao, then a 4-year-old male, and Er Shun, a 5-year-old female, left China for Canada. They were scheduled to stay for 10 years under a conservation agreement between the two countries.