Five things you don’t know about the Calgary Zoo’s Panda Passage

panda

Five things you don’t know about the Calgary Zoo’s Panda Passage

Sure the pandas are cute. Whose heart doesn’t melt a little at all that black and white cuteness rambling around the Calgary Zoo’s Panda Passage? But unless you read this e-zine regularly there are five things you will probably overlook when you visit the pandas.

The building the pandas live in is recycled

Not content with recycling pop bottles, the zoo recycled an entire building! The panda’s new home is where I used to ride elephants back in the day. So you know this building is really old!. When the elephants moved to Washington, DC, the zoo renovated the building rather than disturb nearby river habitat. They also undertook the Living Building Challenge (green building standards even higher than those in LEED buildings).

Detectives were involved

Maybe not police detective but the zoo required every contractor to trace the source of their building materials to ensure they were local (54% were sourced within 500 kilometers) and traveled the shortest distance possible to the zoo. You can travel the shortest distance to pandas during summer months by booking a time in the panda lineup when you come through the main entrance.

A tiny bit of China

The Zoo designed Panda Passage with architecture and art from China. You’ll feel like you’ve travelled thousands of kilometers when you pass through the bamboo entrance. By carefully framing your photos in the exhibit, your friends may believe you took the pictures in China.

You can breathe deeply

Okay, you may get a whiff of panda poo if you’re lucky (the keepers work hard to keep the enclosures clean). But you won’t be breathing in unhealthy chemicals. Builders and suppliers were asked to eliminate any chemicals that appear on the Living Building Challenge list of 700 chemicals with the greatest impact on humans and ecosystems.

You’re part of a property swap

The Calgary Zoo has set aside 6,870 m2 of natural habitat to offset the footprint of the Panda Passage. So when you’re oohing over the pandas, you can feel good knowing a large piece of natural area is also being protected. If you do your panda peeking early in the morning or later in the afternoon you have the best chances of seeing the pandas at their most active.

To learn more about The Living Building Challenge click here or to book panda programs click here.

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Originally published at Carol Patterson.