Pandas are coming to Toronto—for $11 million

Pandas are coming to Toronto—for $11 million

Panda price tag: grin and bear it (Image: Mike Johnston) 

Giorgio Mammoliti is finally going to get his bears. For the past nine years, the city councillor and mayoral also-ran has been pushing expensively tirelessly to help the Toronto Zoo obtain two rare giant pandas from China. Now that a deal has been reached with Beijing, the animals should be Scarborough-bound by 2012 (one of them is even named Moi Moi, after former mayor Mel Lastman). There’s just one more hurdle: the city needs to put together about $11 million to get them here. In Rob Ford’s Toronto, even one of the mayor-elect’s closest allies may not be able to get that kind of gravy funding from city coffers.

The costs break down like this: $10 million to build a panda enclosure (which we hope won’t make the bears too difficult to hug) and $1 million for the annual panda rental fee, paid directly to China. Of course, once the bears get here, Toronto Zoo officials are expecting them to bring in about $10 million per year—nothing to sneeze at. Mammoliti says sponsors are being sought to help finance the costs, which should keep the city from having to cut the giant panda acquisition task force in half.

Pandas coming to T.O. [Toronto Sun]