The Toronto Zoo has a new initiative that is expected to keep them busy for the next five years.
Giant pandas will be arriving this spring, and the volunteer department is getting ready.
“With pandas coming, it is a whole different ball game,” said Kelly Bentley, the supervisor of volunteer services and programs for the Toronto Zoo.
Volunteers for this special exhibit, who can be as young as 16, will be part of an elite group called the Panda Ambassadors.
“To be able to talk to an actual person as opposed to reading a sign … is a great benefit to the customers experience,” Bentley said.
The ambassadors need to have an appreciation for all animals, especially pandas, and have to be ready to engage with the public in an enthusiastic way.
In 1985, Toronto’s only other panda visitors drew the highest annual attendance levels – 1.9 million visitors – for the Toronto Zoo.
The zoo is preparing for the animals to be a huge hit this time around, as well.
Although the same type of effort was done in 1985 to create exclusive volunteers for the giant panda exhibit, it was not perfected.
So when should we be expecting these giant pandas to check in?
“We are probably aiming for early April, but that is a day-to-day change depending on how the exhibit is going and so many other factors,” said Bentley.
If you’re thinking about becoming an ambassador, you don’t need to be an expert about every animal that calls the Toronto Zoo home. Training will be provided, said Bentley.