China releases panda after special survival regime

Oct 12, 2012
Taotao, an artificially bred giant panda born in captivity in Wolong slowly makes its way towards a bamboo forest in Shimian, southwest China's Sichuan province on October 11, 2012 upon its release into the wild. Authorities described Tao Tao's release as a new phase for the nation's panda protection efforts.

A captive-bred Chinese panda has been released into the wild as part of efforts to help the struggling species, but this time with special survival training after one of the animals died in a previous attempt.

Two-year-old "Taotao" was taken from its mother and handlers and delivered to a nature reserve in southwestern Sichuan province on Thursday to brave the real world on its own, state-run Xinhua news agency said.

A previous effort ended in disappointment in 2006 when Taotao's predecessor "Xiangxiang" died from injuries suffered in fights with wild over food and territory just one year after being released.

Xinhua said scientists at the Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan went back to the drawing board, devising a new training and acclimatisation regime for Taotao that included handlers who wore full panda suits to prevent the animal becoming familiar with humans.

Scientists hope that, if successful, the Taotao project will prove a template for introducing captive-bred pandas into the forests to help increase the wild population and the species' .

Taotao (C), an artificially bred giant panda makes its way through a bamboo forest in Shimian, southwest China's Sichuan province on October 11, 2012 upon its release into the wild.

Pandas, which are only found in mountainous southwestern China, have a famously low reproductive rate and are under pressure due to and other factors. China has 1,600 wild pandas and 342 captive-bred ones, Xinhua said.

Taotao's mother was allowed to raise him in semi-wild conditions, imparting basic panda skills like climbing.

The panda also was deliberately exposed to , snowstorms and even rockfalls, as well as conditions aimed at helping it to identify threatening situations, Xinhua said, without giving details.

"As opposed to Xiangxiang's captive-bred environment, Taotao has lived and grown in semi-wild conditions since he was very little," Zhang Hemin, a state conservationist involved in the effort, told Xinhua.

"This means its fighting capability and survival skills both improved significantly."

Taotao's new home is a in Lipingzi Nature Reserve.

But Taotao faces a dangerous world populated not only by wild pandas, but also bears, leopards and wolves, Zhang warned.

"Taotao is only the second such panda released to nature, and we remain at the experimental stage," he said.

Explore further: Study shows exception to rule of lifespan for fliers, burrowers and tree dwellers

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

China to release six pandas into wild

Dec 21, 2011

Six captive-bred pandas will be freed into an enclosed forest in southwestern China next year in the first mass release of the highly endangered animals, the official Xinhua news agency said Wednesday.

China launches global search for six panda keepers

Aug 17, 2010

A Chinese panda centre said Tuesday it had launched a global search for six people who would spend a month looking after the endangered animals, as part of an awareness and conservation campaign.

China to launch panda census

Jun 27, 2011

China is set to launch its once-a-decade panda census, state media reported Monday, as it tries to determine how many of the endangered animals live in the wild amid efforts to boost numbers.

Pandas to return to famous China reserve in 2012

Sep 20, 2009

(AP) -- Sixty pandas relocated last year from a famous Chinese nature reserve after their breeding center was severely damaged by a massive earthquake will return home after repairs in 2012.

Recommended for you

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

3 hours ago

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

More vets turn to prosthetics to help legless pets

6 hours ago

A 9-month-old boxer pup named Duncan barreled down a beach in Oregon, running full tilt on soft sand into YouTube history and showing more than 4 million viewers that he can revel in a good romp despite lacking ...

Chimpanzees prefer firm, stable beds

16 hours ago

Chimpanzees may select a certain type of wood, Ugandan Ironwood, over other options for its firm, stable, and resilient properties to make their bed, according to a study published April 16, 2014 in the open-access ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Net neutrality balancing act

Researchers in Italy, writing in the International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management have demonstrated that net neutrality benefits content creator and consumers without compromising provider innovation nor pr ...