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Loan of panda pair closes personal "full circle": Toronto Zoo CEO

(Xinhua)

13:45, March 01, 2012

TORONTO, Feb. 29 (Xinhua) -- The Toronto Zoo in Canada is preparing for the very special arrivals of a pair of giant pandas from China in the spring of 2013.

It's a very exciting opportunity for the zoo, said Toronto Zoo CEO John Tracogna on Wednesday, adding that China's agreement to loan the panda pair meant a completion of a "full circle" for him.

"The Toronto Zoo is part of a strategic plan, (and) has been trying to acquire a pair of giant pandas for a long-term breeding program for twelve years. The fact that it has come to fruition is very exciting, very important for the Toronto Zoo, " Tracogna told Xinhua.

China agreed to loan two of the country's precious giant pandas to Canadian zoos when Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a state visit to China in early February.

Tracogna was also on that trip and signed the deal with the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens in Chongqing, a municipality in southwest China where one of the panda is from. The panda pair will stay in the Toronto and Calgary zoos for five years each after they arrive in Canada early next year.

For Tracogna, the new arrivals will close a very personal circle. Twelve years ago, before he was ever involved with zoo business, Tracogna was part of an economic development commission that went over to Chongqing, a long-time sister city of Toronto. He was one of the lucky few to ever hold a six-month-old panda cub.

Showing a finely framed picture depicting the moment, Tracogna called the situation "kind of a full circle".

"It's kind of ironic," said Tracogna, "when you fast-forward to 2012 that here I'm standing as the CEO of the Toronto Zoo. And I just concluded a significant panda agreement between the Toronto Zoo and Chonqing and the Chengdu panda base and Calgary Zoo."

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