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China to release captive-bred pandas into wild


20:57, December 21, 2011

BEIJING, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Six pandas bred in captivity will be released into an enclosed forest in southwestern China next year, a major step forward in the country's drive to send the endangered animals back to nature.

The pandas, aged two to four, will be released into the "Panda Valley" -- 134 hectares of enclosed forest -- on Jan. 11, 2012, said Zhang Zhihe, director of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, home of the six pandas, on Wednesday at a news conference in Beijing.

After a year of observation on their health conditions and genetic backgrounds, the six were carefully selected from 108 pandas living at the Chengdu base, Zhang said.

They will be the first group of pandas released into the "Panda Valley," which is also known as the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Release Research Center and is affiliated with the Chengdu panda base.

The center is located in Majiagou in Yutang town in the city of Dujiangyan. Construction at the center started in May 2010 and investment is expected to reach 300 million yuan (47.6 million U.S. dollars).

Upon the center's completion, it will host 30 to 40 giant pandas, according to Zhang.

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