It was reported last week the the Toronto Zoo was close to acquiring a couple of pandas from China to exhibit at their zoo. The Toronto Star is now reporting that the deal is done and the zoo will have the pandas for five years, starting next year. The deal is expected to be officially announced during Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s current visit to China.
The zoo, which is struggling to stay afloat, expects the bears to bring in $5 million a year in profit, and taxpayers won’t be on the hook for any of their expenses. Additionally, the zoo has scrapped plans on building a new $10 million facility to house the pandas, and will instead just renovate existing space. A nominal fee to view the pandas is expected to be charged on top of the normal zoo admission. Attendance is estimated to see an increase of over 600,000 visitors during the pandas five years in Toronto.
Once the pandas are done in Toronto their Canadian vacation won’t be over – they’ll be off to Calgary to spend five years at their zoo. Both the Toronto Zoo and Calgary Zoo will be donating $1 million to Chinese panda conservation causes.