Toronto Panda-monium Could Be Permanent, Says Councillor
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Toronto Panda-monium Could Be Permanent, Says Councillor

Giorgio Mammoliti does some classic political panda-ring.

Photo by the Toronto Zoo

Photo by the Toronto Zoo.

They’re cute. They’re cuddly. And, if one local panda bandit has his way, they could be Toronto’s for the keeping.

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York-West) announced that he will take strides to keep the Toronto Zoo’s panda cubs in the city.

“We have to keep these two,” Mammoliti told reporters at the cub naming ceremony today. “That will be my next fight,” says the councillor who has also championed a red light district and the world’s tallest flagpole.

Canada would pay for the pandas to stay here, Mammoliti added, though they would officially belong to their country of origin, China.

Mammoliti also expressed hopes that he and Mayor John Tory will travel to China to negotiate an extended stay for the pandas. The Zoo board has given the councillor the go-ahead to start those discussions.

Despite their costly price tag, the promise of adorable panda cubs was not enough in 2014 and 2015 to increase zoo attendance and improve revenues.

Still, today’s naming ceremony—dubbing the fuzzy pair Jia Panpan (meaning Canadian Hope) and Jia Yueyue (meaning Canadian Joy)—brought in big names. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne were on hand to introduce the cubs to the city.

The public can meet the cubs themselves on Mar. 12.