What's black and white and generates lots of panda-monium? Two words: giant pandas.
Er Shun and Da Mao, the two cuddly bears on loan from China, will make their début at the Toronto Zoo later in May after flying all the way from Chengdu, China on Monday. Their arrival in Toronto marks the first part of a 10-year deal between Canada and China. The two giant pandas will stay in Toronto for the first five years and be transferred to the Calgary Zoo sometime in 2018 according to the Toronto Zoo's website.
But there's more than the million-dollar-per-year price tag associated with keeping these pandas in Canada. Er Shun and Da Mao are part of a breeding program and if they're successful, it'll not only mark a landmark achievement for zoo keepers in Toronto but also mean the city will get its very own panda, reports the Toronto Sun.
When it comes to bears (note that pandas aren't related to bears such as the grizzly and the polar bear), pandas are one of the rarest breeds. It's estimated that there's less than 2000 of them around the world with roughly 1, 600 of them in the wild and 300 in captivity according to the CBC. Their dwindling numbers are part of the reason why there's so much excitement when they arrive at a zoo says Laura Doty, a communications specialist with the Memphis Zoo. The zoo is one of only five zoos in the U.S. that has pandas.
Er Shun and Da Mao's arrival marks the first pandas to visit Canada in the 24 years. Prior to their arrival, the last pandas in Canada were Cheng Cheng and Bing Bing who stayed in Assiniboine Zoo in Winnipeg back in 1989.
With files from the Canadian Press
Pandas Around The World. Slideshow text follows for mobile readers:
The Adelaide Zoo, Adelaide, Australia
The zoo is home to two giant pandas, Wang Wang and Funi. Here, you see Wang Wang sampling bamboo in his new enclosure at Adelaide Zoo on December 13, 2009 in Adelaide, Australia.
The Atlanta Zoo, Atlanta, United States
The zoo is home to five giant pandas, two adults and three cubs. The two adults are named Lun Lun and Yang Yang. The cubs are named Mei Lan, Xi Lan and Po. Here we see Yang Yang eating bamboo leaves at a zoo in Atlanta on Friday, Oct. 22, 2010.
Chapultepec Zoo, Mexico City, Mexico
The zoo houses three female pandas: Xiu Hua, Shuan Shuan & Xin Xin. Here, giant panda Shuan Shuan eats bamboo in her inclosure at the Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City, Thursday, July 5, 2012.
Schönbrunn Zoo, Vienna, Austria
The Schönbrunn Zoo is home to two pandas: Yang Yang & Long Hui.
On the right,Yang Yang eats bamboo at the Schoenbrunn zoo in Vienna, Austria on October 16, 2012.
Chiang Mai Zoo, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai Zoo is home to three pandas: Chuang Chuang, Lin Hui and Lin Ping. Pictured are Chuang Chuang (R) and Lin Hui, enjoying a wedding ice cake, filled with fruits, at Chiang Mai Zoo in northern Thailand.
The Madrid Zoo, Madrid, Spain
The zoo houses four pandas: two adults and two cubs. The adults are named Bing Xing, Hua Zuiba. The two cubs are named Po and De De. Here, the cubs discover their birthday cake during celebrations for their first birthday at Madrid's Zoo on September 9, 2011 in Madrid.
The Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Washington, United States
This zoo is currently home to two pandas: Mei Xiang and male Tian Tian. In the photo, Tian Tian, the 275-pound male giant panda at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, moves around in his outdoor enclosure.
The Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh, Scotland
After Scotland reached a deal with China, the Edinburgh Zoo landed two pandas: Tian Tian and Yang Guang. Here, the male Yang Guang (Sunshine), a giant male panda, chews on bamboo on his ninth birthday, his first on Scottish soil, at Edinburgh Zoo, on August 14, 2012 in Edinburgh.
The Beijing Zoo, Beijing, China
A giant panda rests at the Beijing Zoo on June 5, 2012 in Beijing, China. With an estimated 1,600 living in the wild, the endangered giant panda dwell in a few mountain ranges in central China, in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces.
The San Diego Zoo, California, United States
The zoo has housed nine giant pandas in the past but only four remain: Bai Yun, Gao Gao , Yun Zi and Xiao Liwu. In the photo, Xiao Liwu, a 5 1/2-month-old male panda, below, nurses as his mother, Bai Yun while she looks on at the San Diego Zoo Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in San Diego.
The Shanghai Zoo, Shanghai, China
Panda cubs from the Wolong Giant Panda Reserve Center in Sichuan are seen at a Shanghai zoo, in China Thursday Jan. 28, 2010. Ten giant panda cubs, all born after the deadly earthquake
that hit China's Sichuan province in 2008, were sent to Shanghai to go on display during this year's World Expo.
The Taipei Zoo, Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei's zoo houses two pandas: Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan. Here, the two eat bamboo leaves inside their new enclosure at the Taipei Zoo on January 26, 2009. City authorities have spent about 10 million US dollars on an enclosure for the four-year-old pair and hope they will attract six million visitors a year.
The Memphis Zoo, Memphis, United States
The zoo is home to two giant pandas: Le-le, left, and Ya-Ya. Here the two are seen wrestling during courtship at the zoo, in this Jan. 10, 2007, file photo.