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Thursday's papers: Panda-monium, Tampere welcomes rail upgrades, and pricier cups of coffee

Ähtäri Zoo's chief says it may be time to throw in the towel on its expensive panda project.

Lumi, Ähtärin panda lepää
The panda couple at the Ähtäri Zoo costs about 1.5 million euros a year. Image: Tarmo Niemi / Yle
Yle News

Agriculture Minister Antti Kurvinen (Cen) on Wednesday said that his ministry would not support a budget allotment of five million euros for the giant pandas at the Ähtäri Zoo.

In an interview with tabloid Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun), the zoo's CEO Arja Väliaho said she was disappointed by the news and feared that the pandas Lumi and Pyry can no longer be kept at the Zoo.

The pandas arrived to Finland in 2018 after Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to the Nordic country the previous year.

According to Väliaho, the zoo is in desperate need of more money to become a foundation, the same way Helsinki's Korkeasaari Zoo is organised.

Currently, caring for the pandas cost more than the money they bring in. In 2021, Ähtäri Zoo had an operating loss of 673,000 euros.

"They [the pandas] cost 1.5 million euros a year," Väliaho told IL.

Väliaho added that in light of the current situation, the only option is to return the pandas to China.

"It depends very much on the decision of our government, but everything looks like there will be no solution. We're disappointed and think we should throw in the towel and give up the pandas," Väliaho said.

The zoo's board is expected to meet soon to discuss the situation.

Tampere leaders react to rail report

Tampere-based Aamulehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun) covered the city's reaction to an extensive, but somewhat lukewarm, feasibility report on a proposed national rail overhaul known as 'Suomirata'.

Part of the project would boost Tampere's role as a rail hub, so some city leaders dismissed the report's economic and environmental concerns surrounding the initiative.

While the report does not make any recommendations about whether or not to proceed with the projects, it provides some material for decision-makers to consider.

"Finland needs connections," Tampere's mayor Anna-Kaisa Ikonen (NCP) told AL.

According to Ikonen, it is clear that the Helsinki-Tampere rail corridor is at capacity and needs to increase.

"Having cities connected to each other would be of great importance for the success of Finland as a whole," Ikonen said.

Coffee in the capital

Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) covered how much a cup of coffee costs in central Helsinki these days.

According to Statistics Finland, the price of a cup of coffee rose nationwide in September.

A survey of 12 cafes in central Helsinki found prices ranging from 3 to 4.50 euros.

HS wrote that the price of coffee has generally increased in restaurants and cafes in recent years, a trend that continued due to inflation.

Hospitality lobby Mara CEO, Timo Lappi, explained the background of the price hikes.

"The consumer price of coffee rose because the wholesale price of coffee bought by restaurants was 18 percent higher in September last year than at the same time a year earlier," he told HS

Lappi went on to list other factors that influenced the price of coffee.

"Raw material costs are one element in the price of a cup of coffee. Other factors such as VAT, rents and labour costs also affect the price of coffee [at restaurants and cafes]," he noted.

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