Exactly 888 papier-mâché pandas are now on display in Metro Vancouver

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      Panda-monium has arrived in Metro Vancouver in the form of exactly 888 papier-mâché pandas.

      The model bears, which have been painted black and white to resemble giant pandas, will be on display at Metropolis at Metrotown’s (4700 Kingsway, Burnaby) Grand Court until August 8. They’re being presented by the World Wildlife Fund and French artist Paulo Grangeon as a way to raise awareness about panda conservation.

      During the showcase, guests may “adopt” one of the pandas by making a donation to the WWF. This can be done at the nearby “adoption kiosk”; the bears will be ready for pick up from August 10 to 12.

      The exhibit is part of a travelling initiative titled the 1600 Pandas+ World Tour, which was launched in 2008 by the WWF and Grangeon in an effort to draw attention to the world’s dwindling wild panda population. Only 1,600 living pandas were counted internationally at that time.

      1600 Pandas+ World Tour

      While there has been a 17 percent increase in the wild panda population since—bringing the total number of the critters to more than 1,800 and prompting organizers of 1600 Pandas+ to add a plus sign to the name of the display—panda preservation and wildlife sustainability remain important global issues.

      Coordinators haven't said why they decided to bring precisely 888 of the papier-mâché animals to B.C., though the number is an extremely auspicious one in Chinese culture. (The Cantonese and Mandarin pronunciation of eight rhymes with the word denoting good fortune; giant pandas are native to south central China.)

      Prior to landing in Burnaby, the 1600 Pandas+ World Tour appeared in countries such as Malaysia, the Netherlands, and South Korea. Dozens of the recycled-paper creatures also descended upon Vancouver’s Jack Poole Plaza and the area outside Science World last week to drum up interest in the exhibit’s arrival at Metropolis at Metrotown.