Pandas evacuated from quake may return to Wolong
From Global Times:
More than 80 giant pandas roaming around in a mountain gorge base near Chengdu, capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan Province, will return to the bamboo groves of Wolong next year after their quake-leveled homes are rebuilt.
“Rebuilding of all the facilities at the Wolong Nature Reserve will be completed on schedule before the end of 2012,” said Zhang Hemin, head of the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center in Wolong.
By then, all the 82 pandas at the Bifeng Gorge base in Ya’an will be moved into new homes.
Wolong rebuilding covers the research center and two affiliated institutions, including the Bifeng Gorge base and a panda disease control center in Dujiangyan, said Zhang, a renowned panda expert who led the way in breeding giant pandas through artificial insemination.
The new Wolong center, located at Shenshuping in Gengda township, is expected to cost nearly 300 million yuan ($45.87 million).
The center will also have 23 zones in the wild mountain forests outside the enclosed area, where wild training programs will be carried out to help captive-bred pandas return, step by step, to the wild, said Zhang.
The Wolong Nature Reserve is home to about 60 percent of the world’s total panda population.
The Wolong panda base, about 30 kilometers from Wenchuan, the epicenter of a massive quake on May 12, 2008, was seriously damaged and its pandas were all evacuated to Bifeng Gorge.
Wolong now owns 165 giant pandas, including 47 born after the quake. Eighty-two are now living at Bifeng Gorge and all the others have been leased to zoos in China and abroad.
Most giant pandas in captivity are not good breeders. Only 24 percent of females in captivity give birth, posing a serious threat to the survival of the species.
Entry filed under: Giant Pandas.