Zoos raise concerns about bringing panda exhibits to Washington

KING 5's Drew Mikkelsen reports.

SEATTLE, Wash. -- Ron Chow, co-chair of the Washington State Panda Foundation, is “very confident” his group can bring two pandas to the state. Where they would live is another matter.

The foundation said a meeting in China later this month is a sign of progress in their effort to get the country to grant two pandas to Washington.

Backers see getting a panda exhibit as a tourist attraction and a way to improve Seattle’s standing in China.

“This is so important to the growth,” said Chow.

The foundation has heard concerns from officials at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo and the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma.

While pandas would be an attraction, they also require specific food and housing facilities.

A spokesperson for the Point Defiance Zoo said they’re not saying no to pandas, but would need help paying the bills.

“There’s payments to the Chinese government, there’s facilities, they eat a phenomenal amount of food. It requires a lot of expertise that we don’t have,” said Hunter George.

A written statement from a Woodland Park Zoo spokesperson was more direct: “The zoo does not have plans to bring pandas to Seattle at this time.”

Foundation board member Ron Lucas said along with trying to secure the pandas, the organization is working to raise money to help pay to care for them.

Copyright 2016 KING


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