PANDAS!

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    Nov 01, 2010 3:24 AM GMT
    Twenty years after Canada last welcomed pandas to its shores, the rare and iconic bamboo-eating bears could soon be back.

    CTV News has confirmed the federal government has negotiated with Beijing to bring a pair of Chinese giant pandas to three Canadian zoos for a period of up to ten years.

    Zoos in Calgary, Toronto and Granby, Quebec are each expected to host the bears for between 18 months and two years each.

    Pandas are among the most popular of zoo attractions, as they tend to draw huge crowds eager to see the bears and take a cuddly panda souvenir or two home.

    "Everybody loves the pandas," federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice said from Beijing, where he is holding talks with his counterparts on a variety of issues.

    "The zoos have been talking about a later start date, but the Chinese government has been clear in indicating they would like this to begin in 2011," Prentice added.

    Culminating months of high-level diplomatic efforts, the deal was struck on Friday in a meeting that included Prentice, China's State Forestry Administrator Jia Zhibang and Canadian Ambassador David Mulroney.

    "There's been political apporval secured at the senior level for the exchange, we now have to get into all he detailed negotiations," Prentice said.

    Last year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper threw his support behind the effort. Then during a trade mission to China in May, Treasury Board President Stockwell Day presented a panda proposal to a high-ranking Chinese politician.

    Two months later, then-governor general Michaelle Jean also weighed in with her own pitch during a tour of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China's Sichuan province.

    While zoos can pay China up to $1 million for the short-term loan of a panda, Prentice said no price has been set for this long-term deal.

    Pandas last touched down on Canadian soil in Winnipeg 1989. Pandas also visited the Calgary Zoo in 1988, and the Toronto Zoo hosted its own 'pandamania' in 1985.

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    Nov 01, 2010 3:30 AM GMT


    GRIN
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    Nov 01, 2010 3:34 AM GMT
    StudlyScrewRite said

    GRIN



    OH GOD THAT WAS FUNNY!!!!
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    Nov 01, 2010 3:41 AM GMT
    Couldn't ya just draw black patches around the eyes of a couple of your polar bearsand be done with it.