Rabita Naqvi / The Silhouette

Two endangered pandas are being showcased at the Toronto Zoo. The pandas are to stay in Toronto for five years and then be transferred to Quebec and across Canada to Calgary for scientific research.

Da Mao and Er Shun are two Chinese pandas that have flown across the world to please many Canadians. Although the Toronto Zoo has claimed they are going to provide a great home and stable environment, they may have another agenda.

The headline of Jessica McDiarmid’s article in the Toronto Star, “Toronto Zoo expects a big attendance boost with black and white stars Da Mao and Er Shun,” says it all.

The article explores the topic of how the Toronto Zoo is going to gain a large audience, and the money it is going to make. Their only intention appears to be to make millions in profit and use these pandas as bait to reel people in.

These poor pandas are being flown to many different parts of Canada just to please an audience. Surely this is not a stable environment for them. Did we forget that these precious animals are endangered? Moving them from place to place is only benefiting the Zoo administration and not the pandas.

The Toronto Zoo recently had to face the loss of three elephants that were major attractions and symbols for the zoo. The arrival of the two pandas is timed perfectly to gain a huge boost in admissions and yearly cash infusions. What angered me the most was the use of Ms. McDiarmid’s words, “Snagging the pandas could go a long way to benefiting the zoo.” This almost sounds like they are capturing pandas to benefit themselves, and by benefiting, did she mean gaining millions of dollars in revenue?

Ms. McDiarmid mentions that Councilor Raymond Cho, who sits on the Zoo’s management board, lists the financial boost as a low priority. I believe he does have good intentions to give the pandas a great environment despite the fact they have to be shipped like parcel packages thousands of kilometres overseas, then shipped again across Canada after a few years. He is said to give one million dollars to research and conservation in China.

We have to recognize that pandas are not adorable stuffed toys that we can merely use as show and tell, even if they are fun and cute to look at. They are animals that are endangered and stripped from their natural habitat.

They deserve to stay in a stable environment where they can live freely, and not have to transfer zoos every five years.

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