Panda center prepares cub for wild
Nine-month-old Taotao is a giant panda undergoing wilderness survival training at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda at the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Wenchuan, Sichuan Province.
Taotao was born to a captive father and a wild mother, Caocao, in Bifengxia Panda Base in Ya’an, just south of Wenchuan. He was selected for Wolong’s wilderness training as part of a program that aims to improve the survival rate of captive pandas when they are released into the wild.
“We have begun selecting cubs of wild pandas for the wilderness training so the babies can learn survival skills from their wild mothers directly,” said Wu Daifu, a worker at the Wolong station.
But time is still needed to see whether Taotao can survive in the wilderness. The wilderness training program only resumed last June, after its first and only panda to complete the training died less than a year after he was released into the wild in 2006.
“We are still at the stage of exploring and researching,” Wu said. “It [the wilderness training program] is still full of uncertainties.”
Pandas in the wilderness program go through three stages of training before being introduced into nature. Taotao has finished the first stage, five months in a 3,000-square-meter enclosure. He still had contact with humans, but workers minimized direct contact by wearing special panda-like clothing that seal off human scents.
Taotao and his mother have now transferred to their second training area, a much bigger enclosure of 40,000 square meters. Nearly 50 cameras are placed around the enclosure to observe their daily activities.
In addition, workers will give Taotao a physical check every three months. Wu said the second stage of training may last a year, after which Taotao will be transferred to a still bigger enclosure of 240,000 square meters.
Entry filed under: Giant Pandas.