Travel Alberta

Government helps bring panda-mania to Calgary Zoo

The Alberta government is providing $10 million to help expand the Calgary Zoo, a move that will bring a family of pandas from China to Calgary in 2018.

This significant investment from the Alberta Jobs Plan will help create jobs, enhance tourism and diversify our economy.

The loan of the pandas is part of a Giant Panda Conservation Breeding Program to ensure the survival of the species.

The expansion and the new giant panda exhibit is part of the zoo’s 20-year Master Plan. The Calgary Zoo is hoping to increase attendance to more than 1.6 million visitors.  An estimated 200 new jobs are expected to be added during the construction phase, along with an estimated 40 new zoo-related jobs.

The Calgary Zoo first housed pandas in 1988 and attracted record numbers of visitors.

“We are very excited and honoured that China’s most beloved and iconic animals will call the Calgary Zoo their home away from home. This $10 million investment will make panda-mania possible! The Calgary Zoo is world-renowned and this expansion will help increase tourism, create jobs and contribute to a very important conservation program. This opportunity to host China’s national treasures reinforces Alberta’s strong and growing relationship with China.”

- Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism

The investment will also highlight the zoo’s other exhibits, such as the ILLUMINASIA Lantern and Garden Festival and the zoo’s wildlife conservation efforts.

The new exhibits are projected to boost tourism in Calgary by $16 million to $18 million in 2018 and increase the zoo’s annual economic impact from the current $79 million to more than $95 million.

“We are pleased the provincial government is supportive of this important tourism and conservation project. This is a shovel-ready project and we are able to start construction and put people to work as soon as the necessary permits are in place. This exhibit will also attract more visitors than ever to the Calgary Zoo, which means more opportunities to inspire people to act for conservation.”

- Andrew MacNair, Chairman of the Calgary Zoological Society

Adult pandas Er Shun and Da Mao and twin cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, which were born on Oct. 13, 2015, are coming to Calgary as part of an international agreement between China, Toronto and Calgary. The pandas currently reside at the Toronto Zoo. The agreement between the two zoos and China marks the first time in more than 20 years that Canada has welcomed giant pandas.

In 2013, tourism in Alberta generated $8 billion in visitor spending and supported more than 127,000 jobs.

Related Information


Available following the event

Media inquiries

Marion Nader

Press Secretary, Culture and Tourism

Trish Exton-Parder

Lead, Media Relations, Calgary Zoo

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Government of Alberta