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What Happened to Carolyn Maloney’s Pandas?

From Donny Moss,
August 2022

The local animal rights community does not know what impact the protests played in Maloney’s apparent decision to stop pursuing the pandas, but they are pleased. “We encourage Congresswoman Maloney, John Catsimatidis and Hank Greenberg to donate the money they raised and no longer need for the panda pavilion to organizations that conserve wild animals in their natural habitat.

Carolyn Maloney

Carolyn Maloney, a U.S. Congresswoman who spent several years attempting to lease a pair of giant pandas from China and put them on display in New York City, has been voted out of office. Maloney lost the Democratic primary to fellow incumbent Congressman Jerry Nadler, who signed Voters for Animal Rights “No to Pandas in Captivity” pledge.

In 2016, Maloney partnered with two prominent billionaires, John Catsimatidis and Hank Greenberg, to create a not-for-profit organization “to raise funds to bring panda bears to New York City.” Money raised by The Pandas are Coming to NYC, Inc. would be used to lease two giant pandas from a breeding facility in China; to build a “pavilion” in Central Park in which to display them; and to pay for their care. Maloney’s motives for embarking on this expensive and complicated undertaking are unclear, though she and her partners on the project claim that the presence of pandas would bring joy to New Yorkers and tourists.

From the outset, the plan had one influential detractor, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCF), which runs the Central Park Zoo. For Maloney, the zoo was the most obvious place to put the pandas on display, but the WCF didn’t want the pandas because they are expensive and require more care than most other wild animals in zoos. WCF’s opposition did not deter Maloney, at least at first. She and her partners said they would build a stand-alone “panda pavilion” in the park.


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