MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Buffed, shined & polished. Crews are working around the clock to get the FedEx Panda Express ready for takeoff. It will carry two giant pandas from China to their new home at the Toronto Zoo on Monday, March 25th.
Memphis-based FedEx is leading the charge in the global effort. “We have teams working in China, in the U.S. and in Canada. A lot of different aspects from beginning to end,” said David Lange, the Managing Director of Charter Operations at FedEx. Crews are working to transform an MD-11 into the Panda Express at the Memphis Hub.
Michael Plumb owns Canton Creative. It’s the company providing the decals for the plane. “It’s put together as if it was a jigsaw puzzle,” said Plumb. It takes 48 to 60 man hours just to attach one of the panda decals to the plane. That doesn’t include any of the other decals. “The coordination that is required for getting this airplane in, cleaning it up, polished…the labor that’s involved to get the decals on the plane is extraordinary,” says Plumb.
Lange says FedEx is doing everything possible to ensure a safe ride for Er Shun and Da Mao. The furry creatures will ride in special enclosures during the 18 hour trip. A veterinarian will also be on board, and each panda will have its own attendant. “They’re there to specifically ensure the safety and security of the animals,” said Lange.
Plumb is proud his company is involved in the project, “It’s marvelous. This is probably one of the most fun project’s we’re involved with.”
This will be FedEx’s 6th panda delivery. The Panda Express will take off from China Monday, March 25th for its 18 hour journey to Canada. Er Shun and Da Mao are on loan. The pandas will spend five years at the Toronto Zoo.
FedEx is also working with the Memphis Zoo to ensure the lovable creatures have the food necessary for a healthy diet. The zoo will send bamboo harvested at the Agricenter to the Toronto Zoo two to three times per week, via FedEx Express. The Memphis Zoo grows its own bamboo for pandas Le Le and Ya Ya.