Giant pandas arrive in China following marathon trip from Calgary Zoo

Calgary Zoo officials confirm the two giant pandas, which were on loan from China, have arrived safely back at the Chongqing Zoo in Chengdu.

Er Shun and Da Mao departed Calgary Friday morning after zoo officials decided to cut short the pandas scheduled stay due to concerns with sourcing fresh bamboo amid the pandemic.

"We believe the best and safest place for Er Shun and Da Mao to be during these challenging and unprecedented times is at home in China, where bamboo is abundant and easy to access," Dr. Clement Lanthier, Calgary Zoo president and CEO, said in a statement on Monday.

"This was an incredibly difficult decision to make but the health and wellbeing of the animals we love and care for always comes first."

The adult pandas travelled from Calgary to Frankfurt, Germany on a Lufthansa Cargo flight before continuing to Chendgu, China.

The pair's stay at the Calgary Zoo, which followed a five-year stint at the Toronto Zoo, was originally scheduled to end in 2023.

Er Shun and Da Mao arrived in Calgary alongside cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue in 2018. The younger animals were returned to China earlier this year to participate in a breeding program.