Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism has said that “It is so exciting to see construction underway for the Panda Passage habitat. The Calgary Zoo is a key tourism attraction for Calgary and for Alberta. This investment is helping to improve the lives of Albertans by creating good-paying jobs and new economic opportunities. I am thrilled – as I imagine all Albertans are – that these furry, fun-loving bears are coming to our province.”
Renovations to the Eurasian Gateway Building, formerly home to the zoo’s rhinos and komodo dragons, have begun and will continue throughout the spring. The repurposed building will house the interior elements of the panda habitat.
The Panda Passage habitat is being built to the standards of the Living Building Challenge, an international certification program that aims to create an advanced measure of sustainability. The challenge strives to provide a framework for design, construction and the symbiotic relationship between people and all aspects of the built environment.
About 200 construction workers are involved in the development of the panda habitat and related infrastructure. In addition, the project will create an estimated 40 zoo-related jobs in the Calgary region.
The Alberta government announced $10 million in Capital Plan funding for the development of the Panda Passage in 2016. Additionally, the City of Calgary contributed $8.15 million in funding provided to the city through the province’s.Municipal Sustainability Initiative for the expansion project.
The loan by China of four pandas, including the twin cubs born in Canada in October 2015, is part of the Giant Panda Conservation Breeding Program to ensure the survival of the species. The pandas, currently on loan to the Toronto Zoo, will arrive in Calgary in 2018.
The Calgary Zoo Panda Passage project is an important step forward in growing Alberta’s vibrant tourism sector, both locally and provincially. In 2014, tourism generated $8.3 billion in visitor spending and supported more than 127,000 jobs and more than 19,000 small and medium-sized businesses.