China builds research center to help giant pandas adapt to wild

16:11, November 14, 2009      

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A research center to help captive pandas to adpat to the wild has started construction in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

The center under the control of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is being built in the mountainous Yutang Town, Dujiangyan City. At a cost of 60 million yuan (8.8 million U.S. dollars), it is expected to be completed within three to five years, according to the ongoing 2009 annual conference of the Chinese Committee of Breeding Techniques for Giant Pandas.

"Currently, there are about 300 captive giant pandas and It's time for us to think about putting them back in the wild," said Zhang Zhihe, director of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.

A 8.7-hectare experimental area can accommodate 10 pandas to receive rewilding training. Pandas that perform well in the training will be transferred to the half-wild area in 5 to 10 years, where they live in the caverns and feed by themselves. Finally one or two pandas would live in the real wild areas in another 5 to 10 years, he said.

Parts of the new center will be open to tourists, he said.

Giant pandas, known for being sexually inactive, are among the world's most endangered animals due to shrinking habitat.

There are about 1,590 pandas living in China's wild, mostly in Sichuan and the northwestern provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu.

Source: Xinhua
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