Giant panda wildlife training improved in SW China

08:47, April 29, 2011      

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Giant pandas raised at the Wolong Nature Reserve in southwest China's Sichuan Province will have greater opportunities to get back to nature this year.

One of the reserve's pandas, a giant panda named Cao Cao, was moved to a larger, more challenging training area with her cub in February of this year. Their wildlife training program began last August.

"This means giant pandas bred in captivity will be able to experience more of the 'real' wilderness environment," said Huang Yan, a panda expert with the Giant Panda Protection and Research Center in Wolong.

The new training area is located 3,000 meters above sea level, higher than the previous training area. Pandas in the new training area are required to forage for food themselves, as the research center will suspend food supplies after the pandas are moved, according to Huang.

"This does not mean that they are being abandoned," Huang added. "We have placed more than one hundred cameras in the new training area to monitor and protect them."

"Playing, running, and chasing after other small animals has allowed Cao Cao's cub to be more active and energetic than it was in the previous area," said Huang.

The research center has enlarged the scale of its wildlife training program to enable its pandas to make easier transitions back into the wild.

"Two or three more female pandas and their cubs will be selected to receive the expanded training," said Huang.

It is estimated that 10 to 15 giant pandas will be selected for the new training area over the next five years, according to Zhang Hemin, director of the research center.

"Three or five of them will be able to completely adapt to living in the wild," Zhang said.

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