Canada connection

Updated: 2013-12-04 11:04

By Huang Zhiling and He Juntian (China Daily)

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Canada connection

Roy Spooner, a professor of chemistry at the West China Union University took the panda Pandora to the United States on his way back to Canada.

Enter a famous panda

One day in March 1938, the West China Union University received a request from the New York Zoological Society, which was eager to have a baby giant panda, or a pair if it was possible.

Frank Dickinson, a Canadian professor of biology at the university, immediately wrote a letter to a hunter in Guanxian county in western Sichuan. Not long after that, his wife went to the mountains in the county to take home a cute panda cub.

The couple kept the cub like a pet in their home, giving it the name Pandora.

Two months later, Roy Spooner, a professor of chemistry at the university, took Pandora to the United States on his way back to Canada for a vacation. It was during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45) in China, where flames of battles raged everywhere and the nation was in chaos.

When Pandora died in the United States in May 1941, it was the panda that lived the longest overseas before the People's Republic of China was founded.

"In recent years, many Chinese pandas have been sent to foreign nations as the token of friendship and peace. But few Chinese have heard of Pandora," says Zhang Hemin, chief of the administrative bureau of the Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan, a major panda habitat in China.

After a recent visit to the museum, Liao Yan, a middle-aged woman in Chengdu, was surprised that Canadian missionaries contributed so much to social advances in Sichuan.

"As a child, I was told foreign missionaries came to China as crusaders to occupy China for Christianity. I didn't know Canadian missionaries brought modern concepts to Sichuan by launching western China's first clinic which specialized in Western medicine, China's modern dentistry in Sichuan and Sichuan's first modern printing press," the 36-year-old businesswoman says.

Lorraine Endicott feels moved when recalling her recent visit to the museum.

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