The research and breeding centers were established (1981) to conduct scientific study on the Giant Pandas in order to help understand the species and increase the numbers in captivity.
Today there are over 300 pandas in captivity around the world. When the Wolong Center is rebuilt, it will include a state-of-the-art research center and breeding facility, and, an expansive reintroduction training area with the long term goal of releasing captive born Giant Pandas back into the wild.
The enclosures contain climbing platforms and other enrichment activities to keep the Giant Pandas engaged and active. The kindergarten area has appropriate toys to stimulate the young Giant Pandas. The enrichment apparatus helps the cubs and adolescent Giant Pandas gain strength, agility, and balance.
In the nursery, staff members serve as surrogate mothers feeding and caring for the newborn cubs. Time in the nursery is also a valuable tool for the veterinary staff to monitor the progress of the cubs making sure they are developing at the proper rate.
At the Panda Center, the health and behavior of all the Giant Pandas are carefully monitored and recorded.
Since monitoring the health of the Giant Pandas and administering medical care are vitally important to the Giant Pandas' survival, all the Giant Pandas are trained to perform simple tasks. For example, they are trained to extend their arm on a special shelf in order to have blood drawn or to receive injections.
In order to receive an ultra sound examination which is the only way to establish a true pregnancy, females in the breeding program are trained to enter the cage and lie on their backs.
Nutrition is very important for captive Giant Pandas. Their dietary needs are carefully studied and they are fed special "Panda bread" developed from ground bamboo with extra vitamins and molasses, making it a nutritious and popular treat.