Get ready for Panda-monium

- February 10th, 2012

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Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti with Mel Mel the panda (Sun archives)

So the Toronto Zoo is getting a pair of giant pandas.

Obviously it’s good news for Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti who took many a trip to China to try to secure pandas for the Toronto Zoo when he was a member of the zoo board.

The panda-monium over pandas reminded me of Mel Mel the panda – named after then-mayor Mel Lastman. The Sun archives are filled with stories of Mel Mel and news that pandas could be on the way as early as 2002.

Mel Mel was “when it all started” Mammoliti told me this week as news spread that pandas were finally on their way to the Toronto Zoo.

Most panda stories from the Mel Mel era included concerns over costs and whether or not such a venture would be possible due to the price tag – one headline even was headlined, “Mel Mel will take Moolah Moolah”.

But almost a decade later, the Toronto Zoo now seems confident they can put on this panda exhibit without taxpayers bearing any burden. That’s a nice change and a sign the zoo is moving towards standing on its own two feet.

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Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti with another panda (Sun archives)

Given Mammoliti’s obvious passion for pandas, I had to ask him this week what is it he likes so much about pandas.

Here’s his response:

“I like the story of pandas, I like how you can only find them in one place on this earth. How they were at the brink of extinction, how everyone felt there was no way to breed them and to find a way to breed them and over the last three or four years now there has been a breakthrough on breeding them. Zoos are taking credit for bring the species back and breeding them and that’s what we’re going to be doing at the Toronto Zoo as well. I think the whole story behind them … that’s one of the things I love about the creature.”

“The other part of this is it is not often that you get to hold a panda and there are not many people on this earth that have held a (young) panda and I have … and they are cuddly but once they grow up, if you try and cuddle them they’ll rip you apart. They’re actually very mean. They don’t seem it but they can be very mean.”

 

 

Categories: Politics

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