Canada’s commitment to wildlife… panda-groan-ium.

Canada's priorities...?


A very successful ‘trade’ mission to China for the “Harper” canadian government…

Harper’s panda diplomacy with China yields cute, cuddly results

CHONGQING, China — The pandas are coming, the pandas are coming!

Prime Minister Stephen Harper officially confirmed Saturday that China has agreed to loan two giant pandas to zoos in Toronto and Calgary for a period of five years each — beginning next year — at a cost of $10 million.

In what had become the worst-kept secret of his trade mission to the Middle Kingdom, Harper visited a zoo in Chongqing to announce that Canada has secured a pair of pandas on loan from China for consecutive five-year periods, beginning with the Toronto Zoo in 2013 and then Calgary in 2018.

Male bear ErShun (which translates into Two/Smooth) is from the Chongqing zoo and female Ji Li (Pretty/Achievement) is from a Chengdu facility. The five-year-old bears are expected to arrive in Toronto by March or April next year.

“The pandas’ visit to Canada represents an important step forward in the blossoming relationship between our two peoples.”

Officials from the two zoos said they have agreed to pay $1 million a year for the bamboo-munchers, for a total of $10 million U.S. over the decade that will go toward panda conservation.

Millions of dollars more will be spent to prepare the zoos and care for the animals, including about $200,000 or so a year in bamboo costs to feed the bears and additional fees to train Canadian panda handlers with help from the Chinese.

However, they expect to fully recover the costs from new sponsorship and an estimated one million or more additional visitors each year when the pandas arrive.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

I’m not sure I fully understand…

I don’t think the Canadian government is necessarily on the hook for the $10 million plus for the pandas… but let’s get this straight:

John Tracogna, CEO of the Toronto Zoo, noted pandas often live in cooler climates in the mountains of China, so chilly Canadian weather shouldn’t be a problem. Zoo exhibits will also be climatized to help meet the needs of the bears, he said.

Ummm… so what are the pandas going to do (the wild ones that is) when China guzzles down the world’s oil, coal, and other resources (including Canada’s) and the climate warms by 5 degrees?

Not all pandas (or wild salmon) for that fact can live in “climatized” zoo exhibits…

And what if we could get “sponsorship” to visit wild salmon spawning in their natural habitat? and in turn put that into wild salmon conservation efforts? or habitat rehabilitation?

Gee, maybe the Pattisson line of companies that own most of the salmon fishing fleet could retire the licenses and do that…? (Sponsored by the “Harper” government…)

Still doubting that marketing is everything and everything is marketing…?

Panda diplomacy has become an integral part of the People’s Republic of China’s relationship with the international community, representing a national symbol of goodwill and the country’s desire for better relations.

Trading bears is a sign of goodwill and peace… wow… what a planet. (wondering if China and Syria ever traded panda bears…?)

I’ve heard of ‘green-washing’; but i’m not sure I’ve heard of ‘panda-washing’… (oh right, that’s the world wildlife fund…)

7 thoughts on “Canada’s commitment to wildlife… panda-groan-ium.

  1. simonandfinn

    Hi salmon guy
    I came across your post as I was doing some looking around into the pandas coming to Toronto. Thanks for posting this and I like the points you raise. It seems like the more one looks into something the less clear cut things really are.
    What are your thoughts on the idea of pandas, despite the price tag, helping to highlight the importance of conservation to people in general? There aren’t many left in the world and that conservation efforts have managed to increase their population I would think to be a good thing, not just for pandas but also for the habitats and other fauna associated- thoughts?

  2. salmon guy Post author

    thanks for the comment Melissa,
    my thoughts? very similar to your pondering that: ‘the more one looks into things, the less clear they become…’ That also tends to be a philosophy that guides my life to a certain degree. As one old-time Greek philosopher suggested, ‘you can never step in the same river twice…’ Everything is in change, everything is in flux — and yet, we humans are pretty obsessed with trying to make fixity out of flux. Put lines around invisible ideas (e.g. what are national borders but little more than ideas… yet they seem so firm, bold, and obvious on flat paper maps, and even 3-D globes…)

    Us… them.
    Yours’… ours’.
    Me… you.
    my own… the other.

    Simple answer to your question, if we can’t look after the bears in our own nation — for example, grizzly bears, the white “spirit” kermode bear, black bears, and so on — then why spend time, money, resources, and wasted energy on bears living in a country on the other side of the planet. (with little mention of the growth-obsessed, coal-burning, tar sand facilitating, gobbling-resources, seeking middle class nation that surrounds those same bears).

    Everything is connected.

    As the wild salmon go on the western fringes of North America — so do the bears… (and the other hundreds of species that rely upon them… killer whales, trees, the next generation of salmon, etc.). There is little doubt in my mind that the absolute contagion of shooting “problem” bears in BC communities, has almost everything to do with collapsing and disappeared wild salmon runs. Sure, suburbanism and such also has an impact… however food is just one of those essentials.

    So why don’t we let the nations that have disappearing populations of bears (panda or otherwise) deal with that issue — and look after our own backyards first?

    No to mention, is it really all that safe to teach children that animals can continue to ‘survive’ in human-made zoos? That the answer to extinction is technological invention and climate controlled avoidance of extinction…?

    yes, a complex issue that could fill a volume of books… however, for my own sanity it seems to make more sense (to myself) to try and keep those “conservation” efforts focused a little closer to home… Especially, with the way climate change and human population explosions continue in places like China — sadly, it’s only a matter of time until the Panda goes the way of the dodo, and its other deceased companion species — driven to the grave in some ‘union-made automobile’ fueled by ‘ethical-oil’ driven on ‘recycled pavement’ all produced by corporate social responsibility and triple bottom line economics.

    that’s my somewhat jaded, cynical response… however, our history, humans that is, of changing our ways… ain’t that great.
    Civilizations rise and fall like my chest and lungs when I lay down to sleep.

  3. salmon guy Post author

    p.s. visited your site. nice work. (my youngest, the crazy 2 yr old, his name is Fynn). Can relate to the cartoon drawing for exploring things, take a look through this site if you haven’t already you’ll see random doodling as acts of staving off the madness…

  4. simonandfinn

    Hi salmon guy,
    Thanks so much for your thoughtful and considered reply, you have a great way with words. Thanks also for checking out my site and the positive feedback – that’s funny about Fynn/Finn! Especially given that the Finn character is modelled after a two year old in some respects. I did notice the drawings on your site and I quite like them – they add another dimension to your thoughts which is helpful to visualize.

    As to your comments on bringing the pricey pandas here vs. focusing on local conservation of our own bears/fauna i.e. “looking after our own backyards first”. I agree with you – perhaps what would make things more palatable is if the price tag for the Giant Panda visit directed some of the funds to conservation efforts in the host country instead of funnelling it all back to the “panda loaner” (China). This might better position the panda as a conduit for broader conservation efforts (I suppose the added revenues from the zoos during the panda visit are meant to engender that in terms of helping zoos further propagate genetic robustness in captive populations, but I think these efforts are also more global as opposed to local.. and it seems very few of these animals have been successfully re-introduced).

    Your point about teaching children that the answer to extinction is technological intervention/invention and climate controlled avoidance of extinction is a good one.. and something that has been crossing my mind on a rumbling darker kind of level. Unfortunately “Technology as the solution” is the panacea usually touted for many areas. It’s scary to think that these zoos may become the proverbial Noah’s Ark – that would be a sad outcome indeed.
    So many shades of gray.. funny that pandas seem so black and white. I was thinking of posting on this .. I’d refer back to your site if that’s ok by you.. Thanks so much again for your reponse.

  5. Pingback: Pandas: Available in black, white, and shades of grey | simonandfinn

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