FedEx Express (Memphis) has safely delivered two giant pandas from China to the Toronto Zoo following months of preparations and public anticipation.
The giant pandas, breeding pair Er Shun (female) and Da Mao (male), made the journey from Chengdu, China, to the FedEx Express Canadian Hub at Toronto Pearson International Airport, aboard a specially branded MD-11 aircraft donated by FedEx.
The pandas arrived at 10:47 a.m. EDT (March 25) after an 18 hour flight. FedEx Express, the Toronto Zoo, and the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding collaborated extensively to ensure all necessary precautions were taken to provide a safe and comfortable flight for the pandas. Animal care experts were granted special flight privileges to accompany the pandas onboard the aircraft.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was airside to officially sign for Canada’s receipt of the giant pandas on a FedEx PowerPad handed to him by Lisa Lisson, president of FedEx Express Canada.
“Today is significant for Canadians as it marks an important symbol of trade and diplomacy between our country and China. As the world’s global transportation leader, FedEx understands first-hand the opportunity and potential that comes with strengthened relationships and improved global connectivity—all of which is wrapped into the symbolism of today’s delivery,” said Lisa Lisson, president, FedEx Express Canada. “As excited as we are about facilitating this exchange between Canada and China, I can attest that all our 6,000-strong team of employees, from coast-to-coast, are as eagerly excited about the prospects of a giant panda cub being born on Canadian soil.”
Following the arrival of FedEx Panda Express, Er Shun and Da Mao were transported by two FedEx Express trucks to Toronto Zoo where they will begin a five-year stay before transferring to Calgary. The specially-branded FedEx Express trucks will stay in service throughout the giant pandas’ stay in Toronto, delivering 600 to 900 kilograms of fresh bamboo supplies two-to-three times a week, courtesy of the Memphis Zoo.
As announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on February 11, 2012, the cooperative conservation agreement with China marked the first time in more than twenty years that a giant panda has been loaned to a Canadian zoo. The agreement also marked the first time the Chinese government has granted a ten-year loan of breeding giant pandas to any international zoo in the world.
Following a brief but mandatory quarantine, the giant pandas will be on view to the public at a newly-constructed, state-of-the-art giant panda exhibit at the Toronto Zoo sometime in mid-May (exact date to determined). The program will allow the Toronto Zoo to contribute to ongoing international efforts to protect and increase the population of the endangered giant pandas through investments in research and conservation efforts. Currently, conservationists estimate that there are just over 2,000 giant pandas left in the wild.
“We are honoured to have giant pandas, Er Shun and Da Mao, arrive at the Toronto Zoo and look forward to the opportunity of contributing to the survival of this beautiful species for generations to come,” said John Tracogna, CEO, Toronto Zoo. “The Toronto Zoo is thrilled to join the small group of countries and highly respected zoo organizations outside of China that have the conservation and research programs, professional expertise, and facilities to provide excellent care for a breeding pair of pandas.”
FedEx Express has successfully transported a number of giant panda pairs, underscoring the company’s commitment to safely and securely transporting even the world’s most precious cargo:
- China to Paris, France (2012)
- China to Edinburgh, Scotland (2011)
- Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, USA, to China (2010)
- China to Memphis, USA (2003)
- China to Washington, D.C., USA (2000)
Copyright Photo: FedEx Express. McDonnell Douglas MD-11F N585FE (msn 48481) had the honor for this historic Panda flight. N585FE touches down at Toronto (Pearson) with the special Panda markings.