Memphis Zoo looks to renegotiate panda contract - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis Zoo looks to renegotiate panda contract

After three years, Le Le and YaYa are clearly comfortable in their home away from home at the Memphis Zoo, but keeping the Panda's at the zoo costs a lot of cash.

The Zoo pays the Chinese government $1.1 million a year to keep the pandas in Memphis. The price that does not include the cost of research and upkeep for the animals.

Memphis Zoo Director Chuck Brady told Action News 5 Monday the zoo is a non-profit organization, but they do have a bottom line.

"We're here to serve the people of the Mid-South," Brady said. "We're not here to make money. But we surly have to pay our bills."

Brady said international law prohibits any group from making a profit on an endangered species like the Giant Panda. But the four zoos in the United States that showcase Pandas have been trying to renegotiate their deals for the past six months.

"What we want to do is renegotiate the loan so it's more reasonable, so we can have pandas here and in other cities long term," Brady said.

Instead of 10-years, the zoo wants to keep the bears for 15. The zoo must also consider the baby fee.

"We plan on being successful for having a young giant panda born here," Brady said.

That could be a love tap. A baby panda would cost the zoo $400,000, a fee the zoos want China to waive.

The Memphis zoo may be losing money on the Pandas, but people seem to love the exhibit, and Brady says LeLe and YaYa are worth the cost.

Powered by Frankly