Credit: @thecalgaryzoo / Instagram

It takes two airlines to feed “picky” pandas at Calgary Zoo

CALGARY — The struggle is real for pandas at the Calgary Zoo, which are eating bamboo faster than the zoo can find it.

The four pandas, which staff admit are picky eaters, munch on about 1,200 kilograms of bamboo a week.

Credit: @thecalgaryzoo / Instagram

That’s a lot of bamboo but it wasn’t anything the zoo couldn’t handle – that is, until Chinese airline Hainan announced it was discontinuing direct flights from China to Calgary at the end of October.

Staff was left scrambling to find another way to procure their beloved pandas’ favourite snack. Enter WestJet to save the day!

WestJet stepped forward and is now flying fresh bamboo on its cargo planes twice weekly from Toronto to Calgary. The zoo says Hainan still flies to Toronto and hands off the panda food to WestJet.

The first shipment arrived on Oct. 26.

“WestJet heard about the bamboo challenges and…the WestJet cargo team offered to fly the bamboo shipments from Toronto to Calgary twice weekly,” the zoo said in a news release. “Since our giant pandas don’t like wilted bamboo, this was fantastic news as WestJet cargo also provides cool storage that ensures the pandas have access to the freshest bamboo possible.”

WestJet said it was more than happy to help.

The four adorable pandas – two adults and two cubs – arrived in Calgary in March 2018 from the Toronto Zoo. The four-year-old cubs Jia PanPan and Jia YueYue are set to return to a breeding facility in China in the new year. Their parents, Da Mao and Er Shun, are to stay in Calgary until 2023.

With file from the Canadian Press