First Key didn’t get his flag, now he’s not getting his panda

Looks like people are getting used to saying no to John Key. He won’t be liking that.

Snow leopards, wombats and ring-tailed lemurs are all in Wellington Zoo’s future, but don’t expect to see giant pandas chewing bamboo in the capital any time soon.

The zoo has revealed its priorities for the next decade in a report to Wellington City Council – and conspicuous by its absence was any mention of getting a deal done to acquire giant pandas from China.

Chief executive Karen Fifield said on Thursday that the zoo had plenty of rare animals on its wish-list, but it was not preparing a business case or engaging in talks with the Government about giant pandas.  

Talk of bringing pandas to Wellington caught fire last year after it was revealed Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee had delivered a city council pitch for the bears to the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base in Chengdu while there on unrelated business.

Prime Minister John Key added his endorsement to the idea, saying pandas would be a great tourism boost for the capital. He also promised to discuss the idea with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Personally, I think New Zealand will get there … but there are costs. Eventually I think a couple of pandas will turn up,” Key said at the time.

He declined to comment on pandas when approached by Stuff on Thursday, suggesting the animals had fallen well down the Government’s list of priorities.

The cost of bringing pandas to Wellington has been hotly debated, with estimates ranging from $10 million to $100m.

Even one dollar of taxpayer funding was too much. I’m glad they aren’t getting a stupid panda.


– Fairfax

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.