Animal rights activists staged a protest both inside and outside of U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s campaign fundraiser over her ongoing refusal to call off her $50 million plan to lease pandas from China and put them on display in New York City.
“Pandas are wild animals who exist for their own purposes,” said Edita Birnkrant, Executive Director of the animal rights group NYCLASS. “They should live freely in the bamboo forests of China, not in a display case in Manhattan.”
In addition to opposing animal captivity for human entertainment, the activists argue that the Chinese breeding facility from which the pandas will be leased are merely money-making panda mills and that renting pandas fuels the market for captive pandas while doing nothing to conserve pandas in their natural habitat.
In February 2017, Congresswomen Maloney and her two billionaire backers, John Catsimatidis and Maurice Greenberg, held a “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. Her charity, The Pandas are Coming to NYC, continues to raise money.
In June, 2017, the NYC Council voted to pass a bill to ban the use of exotic animals in performances following an 11 year campaign waged by animal rights activists and supportive lawmakers. Lawyers are reviewing the language in this bill to see if and how it would affect the display of pandas in an exhibit akin to a roadside zoo.