Giant pandas welcome to come to Bronx Zoo, Mayor Bill De Blasio administration says

De Blasio agreed to support the plan because no taxpayer money would be involved.

A pair of giant pandas could have a new address in the Bronx in the near future. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is now supporting a proposal to bring two giant pandas to the Bronx Zoo. 

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) has been lobbying to bring pandas to New York since at least August 2014. But de Blasio had expressed skepticism over the plan because of the cost of the pandas, which must be licensed from the Chinese government for $1 million a year. The animals would also require expensive upkeep and a new, sustainable habitat at the Bronx Zoo. 

But the de Blasio administration said Monday that Maloney had agreed to privately fundraise for all costs of the pandas, so that taxpayers wouldn’t be burdened by the expense. 

Emma Wolfe, the mayor’s director of intergovernmental affairs, wrote in a letter to the president of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, that the city now supported bringing a pair of pandas to the Bronx Zoo, which is considered the only appropriate location. 

“Children and adults, students and teachers, residents and visitors alike would all benefit from the joy and cultural appreciation that these animals might bring to our city,” Wolfe wrote. 

The Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the Bronx Zoo, cautioned that bringing giant pandas to New York would require addressing complicated issues. 

“Any decision to bring giant pandas to New York would need to be based on positively contributing to the conservation of giant pandas in the wild,” said Jim Breheny, WCS executive vice president and Bronx Zoo director, in a statement. 

He said building an exhibit for the pandas would costs “tens of millions of dollars” and “annual support.”

“Very importantly, there is no funding for this initiative,” he wrote.

Cristian Salazar