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Giant Panda Bear News
The IBA Conference for bear researchers and members will be held in Ottawa, Canada in July!
11-11-09 BROWN AND WHITE PANDA BABY FOUND!
Photo by Foping Nature Reserve, news.xinhuanet.com
There has been a brown and white baby Giant Panda found in the Foping Nature Reserve in China. This is only the fifth panda found with this color variation, and so it sometimes happens naturally.
5-24-09 U.S. PANDAS MAY BE RETURNING TO CHINA
There are only 4 zoos in the United States that house Giant Pandas, and these are all rented from China, on a temporary basis. the lease on the pandas in the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. expires next year, leaving everyone wondering if the agreement can be reinstated so that visitors can see these beautiful bears for a longer period of time. These bears are critically endangered as a species, with only 1,600 Giant Pandas estimated still living in the wild. Expense for these rare bears at the National Zoo is high. Rental fees on the bears total $1,000,000 per year, and add to that the large tailored exhibits and the cost of care and food, and the price tag to show pandas is nearly impossible. The other U.S. zoos that house Giant Pandas are in the cities of Atlanta, San Diego, and Memphis. It is estimated that these four zoos lose have lost over $40 million just from 200 to 2003, when you look at the cost to maintain the bears versus the revenue at zoo gates. However, through generous donations the loss is now just under $4 million, still a difficult figure to justify. The birth of a baby panda at a U.S. zoo always helps to pay for the pandas, since the number of visitors always increases drastically when there is a baby panda to see. However, each time a baby panda is born in a U.S. zoo, a separate payment of $600,000 to China must also be made. All payments to China go to conservation efforts to restore panda natural habitat.
05-24-08 Wolong Nature Preserve - A Tragedy
The recent earthquake in China has destroyed a large portion of the panda preserve, say World Wildlife Fund members who were visiting the panda home when the quake hit. It was reported that 20 minutes before the quake hit, the captive pandas who live there suddenly became very active, unusual behavior for the slow-moving bears. WWF tour group members were evacuated with the clothes on their backs and their passports, since their hotel was demolished, and they had to be rescued from near the preserve by helicopter, three days later.
Nearly 100 pandas lived at the preserve. The preserve is in shambles, some of the captive pandas have escaped and run into the jungle, and 5 members of the preserve staff are dead. Six of the pandas have been moved to another nature preserve, however, their fate is questionable since they require a large amount of bamboo and apples to survive. Eight other pandas were flown to the Beijing Zoo, on a planned trip as they are the pandas who will be on display at the August 8 Olympics.
Some of the reserve's 86 pandas have been on loan, or are currently on loan, to zoos around the world.
Giant Pandas are among the world's most endangered species, with about 1600 living in protected areas of China and only 239 in captivity. They are endangered due to loss of habitat.
11-07-07 PANDA GETS ARTIFICIAL PAW
A giant panda in Beijing, China will be getting an artificial paw to substitute for the one that was lost in a fight with other pandas. Since the panda lost its paw in the fight, it has been unable to eat on its own, walk well, or mate. It has been fed by zoo keepers.
This panda's name is Nui Nui. Dr. Glyn Heath and his expert team will be flying there next month to create the prosthetic. They will also train the panda to use it. The prosthetic may have a hook to it, and a thumb for gripping bamboo. Dr. Heath is from England, and has created artificial limbs for other types of animals including dogs. He says this will be his first bear.
11-06-07 SAN DIEGO ZOO PANDA LEAVES FOR CHINA
Mei Sheng, born at the San Diego Zoo in 2003, has left for China. This was part of the agreement made in the efforts to reproduce pandas in captivity. Most giant pandas in the United States in zoos are on loan from China, and may stay here for a certain number of years. Her predecessor, Hua Mei had returned to China in 1999; that panda had given birth to twins three times.
10-28-07 PANDA ATTACKS BOY
A U.K. newspaper reports that a 15-year-old boy was attacked by a giant panda in the Beijing Zoo in China, after the boy climbed into the bear enclosure to get a closer look. The 240-pound bear attacked the boy for 4 minutes before zoo officials lured the bear away, and the attack was very serious. They say that they are not going to put up a taller fence. As of this writing, verification of this story has not been made by CoveBear.
05-31-07 CAPTIVE PANDA RELEASED TO WILD, DIES
Forty years ago, a Giant Panda conservation program began in China, when it was realized that the huge bear may go extinct if action was not taken. Loss of habitat was the main reason for the decline in pandas, who live only in Asia. At the core of the project was the goal of breeding pandas in captivity. At the end of April, 2006, the ultimate goal was reached, which was to actually release to the wild a panda which had been bred and raised in captivity. The Wolong Giant Panda Research Center in Sichuan Province had been the home to this 176-pound panda. The panda that was released to the wild was a male named Xiang Xiang (this name means "auspicious"). This panda, after childhood at the age of one year, took classes in training for the wild in a 50-acre enclosure, being taught how to elude natural predators, such as wild cats (such as cloud leopards) and oxen. The panda wild training lasted three years, and by the end of the training the panda could also find his food in the wild and stake out his territory, and he could build a den and defend himself and his den from intruders. The panda was fitted with a GPS collar so that he could be tracked as long as the collar remained on him, and researchers were hoping to confirm his location visually once per month. The panda's body was found in mid-February, lying in the snow at the foot of a stand of very tall trees. Researchers did not announce the death, wanting to first investigate the death before telling of the tragedy. It took researchers 40 days to track and find the bear's location, after the last transmission from his collar faded. The bear had many scratches and minor injuries, but it was the fall that killed him. His ribs were broken and there were many internal injuries resulting from the fall. It has been determined that the other injuries were caused by wild pandas, and it is now thought that either he was trying to get away from them and fell to his death from a tall tree, or else, was pushed to his death from the tree by a wild panda. It is possible that this male panda was in another male panda's territory and that the trouble was over a territorial dispute. It was not the first time that this panda ran into trouble with wild pandas. Last year the center reported that Xiang Xiang was in a fight with a wild panda over territory, and was badly injured by bites. At that time, researchers rescued him, treated his wounds, and re-released him back to the wild. Plans now are for the next wild release of a captive panda to be a female, who would be more welcomed by other wild pandas in their established territories. Future plans also include improving fighting skills of the captive panda that will be released to the wild. The Giant Panda, Xiang Xiang, has been buried at the base of a mountain, in the wild terrain he had learned to love. There are only about 1600 pandas left in the wild due to a loss of habitat and a low reproductive rate, with approximately 200 living in captivity.
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