FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. is donating its logistical expertise and in-kind transportation for two giant pandas heading from Chengdu to a new home in Toronto.
FedEx Express will ship Er Shun, a five-year-old female panda, and Da Mao, a four-year-old male panda, via a dedicated charter flight on an MD-11F aircraft specially named the "FedEx Panda Express." Animal care experts from both China and Canada have been granted special flight privileges to accompany the giant pandas onboard the aircraft to ensure the animals' safety and comfort. The pandas are tentatively scheduled to arrive in Canada in spring 2013, with the final date of delivery subject to final regulatory approvals.
A cooperative conservation agreement between Canada and China means Er Shun and Da Mao will spend five years at the Toronto Zoo, followed immediately by another five years at the Calgary Zoo. This marks the first time in twenty years that giant pandas have been loaned to a Canadian zoo, and allows both zoos to contribute to ongoing international efforts to preserve the species. Conservationists estimate that just over 2,000 giant pandas remain in the wild.
In addition, FedEx is collaborating with the Memphis Zoo to ensure the pandas have the food necessary for a healthy and plentiful diet. Bamboo harvested locally by the Memphis Zoo provides food for its own giant pandas, Ya Ya and Le Le, and will be delivered to the Toronto Zoo via FedEx Express two to three times per week. The Memphis Zoo will send multiple species of bamboo to determine which varieties Er Shun and Da Mao prefer to eat. Experts say adult giant pandas eat an average of 100 pounds of bamboo per day, necessitating the frequent deliveries.