Calgary Zoo in Canada announced on Tuesday that a pair of loaned Chinese pandas would be returned ahead of schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fans could bid farewell to Da Mao and Er Shun by watching a livestream on the zoo's website, it said.
The pandemic has hit the transportation sector hard in the past two months. The sharp decline in international flights has posed a challenge to the transportation of fresh bamboo, and the quality of bamboo cannot be ensured, it said.
The park said it has made great efforts to overcome the problem, but there is still the risk of a second wave of the outbreak there, and getting fresh bamboo supplies continues to be a challenge.
Zoo President and CEO Clement Lanthier said the zoo had to make a very difficult decision because the safest place for pandas is where there is an ample supply of bamboo that they can get to easily.
In March 2013, Da Mao, then a 4-year-old male from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan province, and Er Shun, a 5-year-old female from Chongqing Zoo, left China for Canada. They were scheduled to stay for 10 years under a conservation agreement between the two countries.