Animals, News, Science

Giant Pandas Arrive In Toronto

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Er Shun. Image: Toronto Zoo
Er Shun is one of the new pandas at the Toronto zoo. Image: Toronto Zoo

Two giant pandas arrived in Toronto on March 25 to begin a 10-year visit to Canada.

The pandas will spend five years at the Toronto Zoo, and then move to the Calgary Zoo for another five years. They are on loan to Canada from the Chinese government.

The pandas travelled by plane from their native China, along with several kilograms of bamboo shoots, boxes of apples and their favourite toys. The trip took 15 hours.

The pandas were greeted at the airport by a large crowd, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Zhang Junsai, the Chinese ambassador to Canada. A high school band played “O Canada” as the pandas’ crates were unloaded.

The pandas were taken to the Toronto Zoo by truck, with a police escort. They will spend at least 30 days in quarantine before they go on display to the public on May 18.

Maria France, who is curator of mammals at the Toronto Zoo, said the zoos want to make people aware that the pandas’ natural habitat is shrinking and needs to be conserved.

The two pandas – Er Shun, a five-year-old female, and Da Mao, a four-year-old male – had never met before the flight. They will be housed in enclosures where they can see, hear and smell each other, and zookeepers will introduce them gradually. Everyone hopes the pandas will mate and produce offspring while they are in Canada.

Interestingly, when the deal for the pandas was made back in Feb,. 2012, China was going to send Ji Li, not Da Mao. At that time, the zoo in China thought that Ji Li was a male. When pandas are young it can be very tricky to determine their gender. When Ji Li got a bit older, the zoo officials did  a blood test and confirmed that “he” was actually a “she” panda. Since one of the goals of the trip will be for the pandas to have a baby, they need a male and a female. So officials offered Canada Da Mao, who is definitely a male.

Prime Minister Harper said the pandas are a “national treasure” of China. He said having the pandas in Canada will help the two countries learn about each other.

Interesting facts about pandas:

• pandas are members of the bear family;

• the panda’s diet is made up almost entirely of bamboo, but they will occasionally eat other plants as well as meat such as rodents or birds;

• there are fewer than 2000 pandas in world, about 300 in captivity and 1,600 in the wild in their native China; and

• pandas are an endangered species, threatened by loss of habitat and a low birthrate.

Related links
Here’s the story TKN ran back in Feb. 2012 when the panda deal was made.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that having the pandas in Canada will help the two countries learn about each other. Do you think this is true? Why do you think so?

Reading Prompt: Text Features
Today’s article concludes with 4 bullet points. Bullet points are short notes that often contain one fact that the reader should know. How do bullet points help readers remember facts? If you had written today’s article, where would you have placed the bullet points? Why?

Primary & Junior
Identify a variety of text features and explain how they help readers understand texts (OME, Reading: 2.3).

Intermediate
Identify a variety of text features and explain how they help communicate meaning (OME, Reading: 2.3).

Grammar Feature: Em Dash
When a writer chooses to include a break in one of their sentences, they can use three different punctuation marks: commas, em dashes, or parentheses. Using commas is the slightest way to show a break in thought or to include additional information. Using parentheses is a very strong way to show this. And, as you can imagine, em dashes are somewhere in the middle. The sentence below was written in today’s story using em dashes. What punctuation marks would you have used to convey the same message and why? How does the sentence’s punctuation change its meaning?

The two pandas – Er Shun, a five-year-old female, and Da Mao, a four-year-old male – had never met before the flight.

The two pandas, Er Shun, a five-year-old female, and Da Mao, a four-year-old male, had never met before the flight.

The two pandas (Er Shun, a five-year-old female, and Da Mao, a four-year-old male) had never met before the flight.