John Catsimatidis, one of the two billionaires helping U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney raise $50 million to rent a pair of pandas from China and put them on display in NYC, defended his plan during a dramatic confrontation with animal rights activists:
During the confrontation, Mr. Catsimatidis defended the importation of pandas on the grounds that New Yorkers want them: “We’ve taken polls. Ninety percent of New Yorkers say, ‘We love pandas, and we want them in New York.'”
The day after the clash, Mr. Catsimatidis invited protest organizer Donny Moss onto his radio show to debate the issue:
“I think that Mr. Catsimatidis genuinely cares about animals,” said protest organizer Donny Moss. “If he took the time to learn why holding wild animals captive for our entertainment is outdated and inhumane, then he might change his mind about renting pandas from China, and he might understand why the animal advocacy community in NYC must continue protesting his plan.”
In February 2017, Mr. Catsimatidis, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and billionaire Maurice (Hank) Greenberg held a fundraiser called the “Black & White Panda Ball” at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel to raise money for the project, which is estimated to cost $50 million. The gala raised approximately $500,000. Their charity, The Pandas are Coming to NYC, continues to raise money.