Saving Pandas in the Wild

pandas in the wild

Why help China save wild giant pandas?

The answer is simple:

  • we are needed,
  • we care deeply, and
  • we believe working together with other nations is the best way to respond to global warming.

In 2008, our partners at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (the Panda Base) asked us to join them in protecting the giant panda from the threat of climate change. They wanted us to help them learn more about wild giant pandas and their habitat and create a successful way to reintroduce captive-bred giant pandas to nature.

We agreed to help.

Giant pandas in the wild are remote, solitary creatures. We don't know enough about them and how they interact with their environment. 

Wild pandas are also greatly threatened and at high risk of endangerment. See http://gcause.org/are-wild-pandas-still-endangered/ 

Our scientists work at the Panda Base to study the ecology, behavior, metabolism, and food of the giant panda. Together we are creating a biophysical model of climatic requirements for the giant panda.

The ability to breed and care for giant pandas in captivity gives us renewed hope that we can save wild giant pandas from extinction.  To add to their numbers and genetic diversity in the wild, we must learn how to reintroduce captive giant pandas successfully to panda habitat.

This is not a simple case of walking a giant panda into the forest and letting him go.  To survive in the wild, giant panda cubs must grow physically stronger than they do in captivity and must also develop the skills that young pandas would learn in the first few years of life in nature.

This is not a simple case of walking a giant panda into the forest and letting him go.  To survive in the wild, giant panda cubs must grow physically stronger than they do in captivity and must also develop the skills that young pandas would learn in the first few years of life in nature.

The results published over a century of reintroduction science tell us that captive panda cubs can use their natural instincts to learn these skills in a protected natural environment.  Our experience also suggests that it is possible to create enough of a bond with our cubs that we can continue to study them after their release into the wild. Both will be essential to our reintroduction efforts.

With effective research and collaboration, we can prepare captive pandas for a successful return to their true homes.