The World Wildlife Fund, arguing that endangered animals should not be used to boost zoo profits, plans to oppose a scheduled visit by a touring pair of Chinese giant pandas to Zoo Atlanta.
The fund already has filed objections to panda visits at the Toledo, Ohio, zoo and the Michigan State fair in Detroit; however, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which must approve the visits, has approved the Toldeo visit.The agency will not rule on Michigan's panda request until at lest June 6, said spokesman Dave Klinger in Washington.
The fund contends that the exhibits would serve no scientific purpose and that short-term loans inhibit panda breeding.
A delegation from Toledo is in China to pick up the pandas and is expected to return with the animals Friday, Toledo Zoo spokeswoman Nancy Foley said.
The Atlanta visit scheduled for September was arranged by former president Jimmy Carter during a trip to China last year.
Rich Block, the fund's director of public programs, said an American law and an international agreement prohibit commercial exploitation of endangered animals.
Block, a former curator of education at Zoo Atlanta, said it was painful for him to oppose the exhibit because he considers zoo director Terry Maple "a great proponent of conservation."
Zoo Atlanta officials said they are still preparing their application.
Klinger said the Toledo permit requires that China use loan profits for panda conservation projects; Toledo Zoo officials ensure the money is used for conservation; and the zoo reports annually on how China used the money for conservation.