TORONTO, July 21, Xinhua - Toronto's giant pandas on loan from China are back in the spotlight after the zoo announced on Monday its plans for a fundraising gala to help protect the species.
Co-hosted by the Chinese Consulate in Toronto and the Toronto Zoo, the Moon Festival Gala is expected to be held on Sept.13, days after the traditional Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival.
Toronto Zoo CEO John Tracogna said he hoped to use the opportunity to strengthen ties with China,as well as raising funds for giant panda conservation.
With a goal of 100,000 Canadian dollars (approximately 93,000 U.S. dollars) in mind, organizers are expected to invite over 300 guests to attend the event, which is also a part of the zoo's upcoming 40th anniversary celebration.
Several fundraisers have been organized since the pandas, Er Shun and Da Mao, arrived in Toronto in March last year.
Meanwhile, both Tracogna and Fang Li, the Chinese consul general in Toronto, said they are hoping for more good news regarding the pandas this September, as the zoo has been monitoring female panda Er Shun for pregnancy since she was artificially inseminated with frozen semen from China.
"The zookeepers are telling me they will be able to find out if she's pregnant by September. Because the baby panda is very small, you can only tell by the ultrasound. So by September during the gala, we hope we'll find out if she's pregnant." said Fang Li.
The zoo hopes the potential pregnancy could boost attendance, which dropped from over 113,033 in March 2013 to 76,046 the same month this year, due to extreme weather conditions.