In 1981, the China Research & Conservation Center for the Giant Panda, at the Wolong Nature Reserve, Sichuan Province, China was established. The Wolong Nature Reserve is a large protected reserve, similar to a National park. The Wolong Panda Center is a research and breeding center within the Wolong Nature Reserve.
The Wolong Nature Reserve, the earliest, largest and best-known Giant Panda reserve in China, was placed on UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve Network in 1980.
The Wolong Nature Reserve is in the Ming Shan mountain range at the foot of the Tibetan Plateau in the ABA Tibetan Autonomous Region, Sichuan China. Located east of the mysterious Siguniang Mountain or Four Girls Mountain, the Wolong National Nature Reserve has a reputation for its natural beauty.
Close to the Wolong Nature Reserve stands the Balang Mountain and Balang Pass that cuts through the mountain. The Balang Mountain is approximately 5,000 meters or 16,400 feet high.
Wolong means sleeping dragon. The local ethic minority are the Qiang people, who believe a giant dragon came wandering through the valley and fell in love with the beauty of the mountains and trees. The dragon decided to go to sleep and then never woke up. The Pitiao River runs through the valley.
Wolong Panda Center
Since Giant Pandas are endangered, in the 1980's there was a major effort to breed and produce captive born Giant Pandas as part of the conservation effort to save the species.
In 1986, the China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda at the Wolong Panda Center had the first successful captive Giant Panda birth. It is now the premier Giant Panda breeding facility in the world and averages about 16 births per year.
The Wolong Panda Center includes numerous Giant Panda houses with outdoor semi-natural enclosures, a hospital, a nursery and kindergarten.
The veterinarians and staff at the Wolong Center pioneered a breakthrough in the survival of captive born twins. When twins are born, the mother usually rejects one cub, possibly due to a lack of milk. While one cub stays with the mother, staff hand raise the other twin in an incubator in the nursery. In order for both cubs to receive the benefits of their mother's milk and their mother's nurturing, cubs are alternated or "swapped" between the mother and the nursery. This method ensures the survival of both Giant Panda babies.
The nursery at the Wolong Center is staffed 24 hours a day 7 days a week, to care for the newborn Giant Pandas who require feeding every three to four hours. Extensive diaries are kept on each animal. There is ratio one caretaker for every two Giant Pandas.
The Wolong Panda Center closed in 2008 due to earthquake damage. However, the Center is being rebuilt with plans to open in a new location by the end of 2012.
See Wolong Destroyed by Earthquake