Photo: Neel Andreasen/Københavns Zoo


Visit Scandinavia’s new pandas at Copenhagen Zoo

On 4 April, two Chinese pandas arrived at Copenhagen Airport with SAS Cargo. The cute pair of bears have now moved into their new home at Copenhagen Zoo - the only place in Scandinavia where you can see pandas live.

Easter at Copenhagen Zoo was very much about the arrival of these large black and white bears. Outside the zoo, hundreds of bike saddles were covered in panda print, and inside, you could buy merchandise such as panda balloons, panda cuddly toys, panda plates and panda sheets. Who the guests of honor were was in no doubt: the two new pandas, Xing Er and Mao Sun.

The panda Xing Er. Photo: Neel Andreasen

On 11 April, the Bjarke Ingels designed Panda House opened to the public, and people stood in long lines to get a glimpse of the two bears, who were not that fussed about the attention, as long as there was room to chew bamboo snack and doze. 

Foto: Frank Rønsholt

It’s no wonder the pandas were greeted in such style. Behind their arrival namely lay a long negotiating process and a number of practical challenges.

Pandas are rare. According to figures from 2014, there are only around 1,800 pandas left in the wild, and only an exclusive group of zoological gardens around the world are permitted to exhibit pandas in public. It’s the Chinese government that evaluates which partners outside China will be granted permission to have pandas, and they typically lease the bears for 15 years at a time. This is also the case in Copenhagen.Hun-pandaen Mao Sun. Foto: Neel Andreasen. 

To enable the pandas to feel at home while they’re here is crucial, such as having a house that satisfies their needs and habits. To ensure this, Copenhagen Zoo has built a brand new Yin-Yang shaped home for them, designed by Danish architect, Bjarke Ingels. But what's most important for pandas to feel at home, is naturally that they have something to eat. 

Pandas are namely very specific about their food, and pretty much only eat bamboo. Loads of bamboo. To be more precise: some 30kg a day and it must be fresh. So simply sources something for the pandas to eat took detective work. For how can you find someone who can deliver such large quantities of fresh bamboo, without having to ship it thousands of kilometers? 

A supplier was tracked down in Vordingborg on Zealand, and the pandas seem happy to eat Danish bamboo. 

So caring for the pandas takes effort, but it appears that this investment in a couple of cute bears is worth the expense in food and lodgings. Copenhagen Zoo namely expects visitor numbers to increase by 15-18 percent since the arrival of the pandas. 

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