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Canada-China trade mission nets two pandas

Feb. 9, 2012 at 8:40 AM
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BEIJING, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- China has officially endorsed lending Canada two endangered giant pandas as part of a major trade mission in Beijing, officials said.

There were rumors before Prime Minister Stephen Harper, his wife and a large trade delegation set off for a five-day mission to China that panda diplomacy would be part of the package.

Thursday, the announcement was made in Beijing that two Canadian zoos would pay the traditional $1 million "rental fee" to keep the pandas for 10 years, the Toronto Sun reported.

Initial plans were to keep the pandas for five years in zoos in Toronto and Calgary, Alberta, the Sun said.

The two zoos will also face large expenditures on bringing in trained Chinese panda handlers, building enclosures for the bears and importing bamboo shoots, the only thing pandas eat. The cost of flying the animals to Canada wasn't given.

Regardless, pandas are known to bring huge revenues to zoos, along with prestige among the international zoological community.

The announcement capped a mission in which the two countries signed off on multi-billion-dollar trade, energy and tourism agreements.

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