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Giant pandas arrive in Toronto

Staff writers
March 25, 2013 — After a nearly day-long flight aboard a custom FedEx cargo plane, two giant pandas arrived in Toronto Monday morning.

The Toronto Zoo will begin playing host to a male and female bear on Monday
The Toronto Zoo will begin playing host to a male and female bear on Monday

Chinese pandas, named "Er Shun" and "Da Mao", arrived at Toronto's Pearson Airport just before 11 am on Monday. 

The pandas are part of a 10-year panda reproduction program between the Chinese and Canadian governments. 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Chinese ambassador to Canada Zhang Junasi and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford were all on hand to welcome the two pandas as they landed Monday morning. 

According to the Toronto Zoo, the pandas will go into immediate quarantine for 30 days before being seen by visitors at the exhibit later this spring. 

The bears will spend the first five years at the Toronto Zoo and will then head to the Calgary Zoo for another five years.

“I would like to congratulate the staff and zookeepers of the Toronto Zoo on the arrival of Er Shun and Da Mao,” said Dr. Clément Lanthier, President and CEO of the Calgary Zoo in a news statement Monday. “This marks several years of collaboration between Canada and China to bring these majestic animals to our country. We are excited for the breeding pair to make their way to Calgary in 2018 for the return of Panda Magic and very soon we’ll begin to prepare for their arrival in Calgary and the five years they will be with us.”

Dr. Lanthier also noted that the arrival of the pandas provides a wonderful learning opportunity.

“The opportunity to host the pandas will help us to increase awareness of the global conservation challenges facing many species and provide support for ongoing conservation work in China.”

The Toronto and Calgary Zoos played host to bear pairs in 1985 and 1988, respectively, while another couple took up a brief residence at the Winnipeg Zoo in 1989.

Currently there are only about 1,600 giant pandas left in the wild. 

With files from CNN

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