Captive-bred pandas to live, breed in the wild

17:49, June 24, 2010      

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Panda researchers in southwest China's Sichuan Province are planning to send some captive-bred pandas into the wild, hoping the cuddly bears will eventually learn to survive and even breed without human intervention.

"First we'll release one or two pregnant pandas into the groves in the outer ring of Wolong Nature Reserve before the end of this year," said Zhang Hemin, head of the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center in Wolong.

The outer ring, rich in vegetation, although fenced is almost the same as the wilderness, except that Zhang and his colleagues will still be able to access and keep an eye on the pandas.

"The pandas would give birth in this semi-wild environment and teach their cubs how to forage for food and survive in the wild," he said.

When the training ends in about two years, they will be released into the wild mountain forests outside the enclosed zone.

Zhang, a renowned panda expert who led the way in breeding giant pandas through artificial insemination, said they had shortlisted six pregnant pandas at their panda research base in Ya'an for the wild training.

"We'll eventually choose just one or two of them -- health, temperament and survival skills would be among the main criteria," he said.

In the first year of the wild training, zoologists would keep an eye on the pandas and, if necessary, continue to provide them with food, said Zhang.

"But to simulate a wild environment as much as possible, zoo workers and vets who enter the zone will disguise themselves as pandas by donning a black-and-white fur coat and crawling on the ground," he said.

The pandas would hopefully take them as their peers and not think they are relying on humans for food and protection.


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(Editor:赵晨雁)

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