Race is on to bring giant pandas to Finland

Two zoos in Finland are vying to bring giant pandas to the country. Hosting pandas is a complicated undertaking, and involves a fair amount of international diplomacy–along with huge expenses.

Creative Commons photo by Gregg O'Connell

Creative Commons photo by Gregg O’Connell

China’s panda diplomacy has been a well-established policy in Beijing for decades. The animals are rarely loaned out and those that get them see it as a huge honour. Now Ranua and Ähtäri zoos in Finland are keen to host a pair of pandas, if an agreement can be reached.

The animals would stay for ten years, and that would in itself cost a huge amount of money. Estimates of the rental payment on a panda run to hundreds of thousands of euros. That’s because the animals are extremely rare: just 1,600 live in the wild with a further 300 in captivity.

The total cost, including food and accommodation that must be specially constructed, will be in the millions. The Finnish zoos hope to recoup that outlay by increasing visitor numbers even though Ähtäri, in Ostrobothnia, and Ranua in Lapland are some way from major population centres.

They have until the end of November to prepare their plans for panda hosting before the Ministry of Agriculture makes a decision on which project to support.

Both zoos hope to have the pandas delivered during 2016.

Source: Yle

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