For years, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (who represents eastern Manhattan & the Bronx as well as parts of north-central Queens and Brooklyn) and various locals pols have been fighting tooth and bamboo nail to try to bring pandas to the city, sadly to no avail. Every hopeful report seems to get shot down by the harsh economic reality of paying for the pandas. But recently, former mayoral candidate and Gristedes founder John Catsimatidis has gotten involved with the panda push, and he's now apparently made a Hail Mary move to bring the pandas here by getting the Trumps involved.

The Post reports that Catsimatidis has spoken to a representative from the Trump Organization about Donald Jr. and Eric Trump joining the push to import two breedable pandas from China. He apparently is trying to use flattery, but comparing the move to when Donald Trump rehabilitated Wolfman Rink in the 1980s: "What I’d say to Eric is, 'You’d be doing for the panda project what your father did with the Wollman Rink. Can you build a panda facility that follows in the footsteps of your father?'" Catsimatidis said. "Maybe the Trump Organization will build it for half the price, the way Donald did the Wollman Rink for half the price." (The rink was completed under budget, but not half the price.)

Of course, considering that Catsimatidis is the guy who was spreading those Hillary Clinton-is-running-for-mayor rumors in the NY Post, maybe we should take his whole Trump/panda appeal thing with a giant grain of salt. And even if it IS true, the Trump kids will probably just end up opening NYC's first immersive hunting zoo.

Those fluffy panda butts come with a pesky $1 million/year price tag, and that's only to borrow them from China (The city would then have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars more to actually care for the pandas).

Catsimatidis, who has a net worth around $3.4 billion, is forging ahead with other fundraising plans in the meantime. That includes starting his own corporation for the venture, The Pandas Are Coming To NYC Inc, and hosting the Black & White Panda Ball in February. The black tie dinner will take place at the Waldrof Astoria on February 8th, and is cosponsored by former AIG chief Maurice R. Greenberg, Chinese-American business woman Yue-Sai Kan & Maloney. Here's their press release on it:

“The Pandas Are Coming to NYC”, is a registered non-profit which is hosting the Black & White Panda Ball. The mission is to raise funds to bring two breed-able pandas to NYC and to build a freestanding Panda Pavilion. This will be beneficial on both a social and political level, as well as act as an economic spark plug for the neighborhood that houses the panda pavilion.

Congresswoman Maloney, always a forward thinking leader of New York City, was ahead of her time when she fought for funds to complete the 2nd Avenue Subway in order to best serve her constituency. She now aims to break ground on this elaborate cultural and political event that involves privately funding a brand new Panda Pavilion in NYC, to house the City’s first ever breed-able panda couple.

“The greatest city on earth deserves to be the home to such iconic creatures. The Gala will be a renewal of Truman Capote’s classic Black & White Ball but with a panda twist!” - Cong. Maloney

Tickets for the ball range between $1,000 and $50,000 so you probably won't be going, but they are expecting to raise between $500,000 and $4 million toward the effort.