Source: Focus TaiWan News Channel
Taipei, May 12 (CNA) A giant panda called Yuan Yuan at Taipei Zoo has lost her appetite somewhat, is sleeping more than usual and has been behaving like a cat on hot bricks since last week, the chief zookeeper said Thursday.
“We can only say at the moment there is a possibility that she may be pregnant,” said Taipei Zoo Director Jason Yeh.
Yeh was responding to a United Daily News report Thursday that Yuan Yuan, one of the two pandas donated by China in 2008 to signify improved relations across the Taiwan Strait, may be expecting because she has been showing signs of pregnancy, such as poor appetite, long hours of sleep and restlessness.
According Yeh, Yuan Yuan’s appetite has fallen off, with her daily intake of bamboo decreasing from 7-to-8 kilograms to 1.3 kg and her carrot intake falling from 800 grams to 100 grams.
Meanwhile, her daily sleep time has increased from 10 hours to 15 hours and she has seldom been going to the outdoor playground, he said.
“After consulting with giant panda experts at the Wolong Panda Base in China’s Sichuan Province, we have tentatively concluded that Yuan Yuan is expecting,” Yeh said.
Citing Chinese panda experts, Yeh said Yuan Yuan was showing signs very similar to when her mother Lei Lei was expecting her.
“Nevertheless, we cannot say for sure that she is pregnant because a supersonic examination did not detect a fetus,” Yeh said.
Yuan Yuan and the male Tuan Tuan both showed signs of estrus between Feb. 7 and Feb. 12, but they did not mate, the zoo said.
Zookeepers collected sperm from Tuan Tuan for artificial insemination of Yuan Yuan on Feb. 9 and Feb. 10.
“Since March 19, Yuan Yuan has been having daily supersonic inspection, but she started resisting the inspections this week and has been getting agitated whenever a vet approaches her,” Yeh said.
“Chinese experts have advised us not to force Yuan Yuan to have any examination for the time being because her temperament may have changed significantly due to hormonal fluctuations,” Yeh said.
According to China’s records, female pandas can sometimes pretend to be pregnant, Yeh said.
“Even if Yuan Yuan is indeed pregnant, she will not have a big belly because a baby panda usually weighs only slightly more than 100 grams,” Yeh said.
The gestation period for caged pandas ranges between 70 days and 300 days, Yeh said, adding that panda pregnancy can be ascertained only 15 days before birth using a supersonic detector.
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.
The facility, which is expected to be completed by 2012, will cover an area of about 51 hectares in China’s southwest Sichuan province and will cost 210 million yuan ($32 million). The Hong Kong government will provide 130 million yuan for the project, with the rest of the funding coming from private investors.
The center’s mission will be rescuing giant pandas living the wild and carrying out research on disease prevention and control for the endangered species, said Zhang Hemin, chief of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda.
“The facility will not only separate pandas’ breeding and disease treatment, but also prevent cross infections of pandas and human beings, because we sometimes have to take them to human hospitals for treatment,” Zhang added.
Giant pandas are among the world’s most endangered species. Over the last 20 years Chinese zoologists have raised 315 pandas in captivity.
Statistics from the State Forestry Administration show that about 1,600 pandas live in the wild, with another 300 living in zoos around the world
Edinburgh Zoo Update;
The date has absolutely not been confirmed for the arrival of the pandas, although it is true all parties plan to be prepared for the arrival from July onwards. Work on the enclosure and on plans for their arrival is well underway and on schedule. We have always anticipated the arrival of the pandas during 2011 and will be very ready to welcome them from July onwards, however this does not mean that the arrival will be in July. Between now and the date of their arrival, we are still to welcome a team from the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association to approve the enclosure, as well as continued visits by the animal department management team, who will look after them, to the Ya’an reserve in China to spend more time with Tian Tian and Yuang Guang before their arrival.
We would urge anyone planning to book their holidays or tickets around a visit to Edinburgh Zoo to see the giant pandas not to make firm booking plans yet.
It is understood that they will be brought from China on a special jet.
Discussions have been taking place between Edinburgh Airport and Chinese delegates over the travel plans for moving the bears to Edinburgh Zoo.
The zoo has previously moved to dismiss fears that the deal to bring the pandas to Edinburgh could be affected by the suspension of senior managers.
They include Iain Valentine, who had been instrumental in the zoo’s efforts to bring the pandas to Scotland.
He was suspended last month amid investigations into what officials described as matters of a very serious nature.
It followed the suspension of the zoo’s chief operating officer, Gary Wilson, in March.
It is understood the zoo’s director of development, Anthony McReady, has left the organisation.
Both men had been helping to run the zoo while a separate inquiry continues into allegations against Mr Wilson.
Pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang, who were both born in 2003, are being brought to Edinburgh under an historic agreement with China.
They will be the first giant pandas to live in the UK for 17 years.
The pandas will be housed at Edinburgh Zoo under the custodianship of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS).
An Edinburgh Zoo spokeswoman, said: “The date has absolutely not been confirmed for the arrival of the pandas, although it is true all parties plan to be prepared for the arrival from July onwards.
“Work on the enclosure and on plans for their arrival is well underway and on schedule.”
Source: The Straits Times
CHENGDU – TWO giant pandas that were dying from hunger in the wild mountains of south-west China’s Sichuan province are recuperating well thanks to timely rescues by researchers from a local panda research institution.
One panda was spotted on April 23 by villagers in Songpan county of Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, said a spokesman with China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center in Wolong.
Vets from the center immediately came to its rescue, and found that the panda was skinny and in poor condition, he said.
The panda was sent to Wolong’s breeding base at the Bifeng Gorge in the city of Ya’an for treatment the next day. Panda keepers named it Song Ya, which means “elegant pine tree.”
The spokesman said Song Ya is now in stable condition but still needs intensive care and medical observation.
About two weeks before Song Ya was spotted, panda researchers saved another wild panda in Aba’s town of Wolong. Yu Shi, or “rain poetry,” was found on April 11 and has been under intensive care at Bifeng Gorge ever since. Yu Shi is recuperating well and the animal’s appetite has improved greatly, the spokesman said. – CHINA DAILY/ANN
From: Xin Huanet
CHENGDU, April 28 (Xinhua) — Giant pandas raised at the Wolong Nature Reserve in southwest China’s Sichuan Province will have greater opportunities to get back to nature this year.
One of the reserve’s pandas, a giant panda named Cao Cao, was moved to a larger, more challenging training area with her cub in February of this year. Their wildlife training program began last August.
“This means giant pandas bred in captivity will be able to experience more of the ‘real’ wilderness environment,” said Huang Yan, a panda expert with the Giant Panda Protection and Research Center in Wolong.
The new training area is located 3,000 meters above sea level, higher than the previous training area. Pandas in the new training area are required to forage for food themselves, as the research center will suspend food supplies after the pandas are moved, according to Huang.
“This does not mean that they are being abandoned,” Huang added. “We have placed more than one hundred cameras in the new training area to monitor and protect them.”
“Playing, running, and chasing after other small animals has allowed Cao Cao’s cub to be more active and energetic than it was in the previous area,” said Huang.
The research center has enlarged the scale of its wildlife training program to enable its pandas to make easier transitions back into the wild.
“Two or three more female pandas and their cubs will be selected to receive the expanded training,” said Huang.
It is estimated that 10 to 15 giant pandas will be selected for the new training area over the next five years, according to Zhang Hemin, director of the research center.
“Three or five of them will be able to completely adapt to living in the wild,” Zhang said.