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Dr. David Kersey’s China Journal | Part 3 of 3

This is the conclusion of Dr. David Kersey’s Journal kept while setting up  an endocrine lab at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda Dujiangyan Base.  If you haven’t had a change, READ PART 1 HERE and READ PART 2 HERE 10/24/2014 Today was another busy day. Based off the results from the checkerboards the previous day, the two techs and I refined the estrogen, androgen and glucocorticoid assays, and I also did some further refinement on the progesterone. Morgan worked with the big group of trainees in the fecal lab on the extractions per modified protocol. Everything went well and the samples were left to evaporate over the weekend. 10/27/2014 The assays are staring to form a solid picture. I was able to finalize the estrogen assay and made inroads to finalize the androgen, glucocorticoid and progesterone assays tomorrow. However, it appears all of this hard work will pay off in spades. One of my goals was to tailor the assays to the lab and how the hormones data will be used (research vs. estrus monitoring). Although they previously had hormone assays, the new protocols I was able to develop with their help will take finite reagents that may have only lasted 1 to 4 years, and extend that out to 8 to 30 years. This is profound, and will allow this lab to function without much additional use of the limited reagent supply for many years. As the two techs and I toiled away in the hormone lab, Morgan had a busy day working with the other trainees finishing up the extractions and preparing them to analyze the samples on the newly minted estrogen assay. 10/29/2014 Although we have had busy days previously, today was exceptionally busy. The two techs and I put the finishing touches on the glucocorticoid, progesterone, and androgen assays. Additionally, I was able to write the programs for the assays on the computer – a feat that was rather incredible given that it was all in Chinese and the techs had no experience using the software. Finally, I completed all protocols for the [...]

Dr. David Kersey’s China Journal | Part 2 of 3

This is Part 2 of Dr. David Kersey's Journal kept while setting up  an endocrine lab at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda Dujiangyan Base.  If you haven't had a change, READ PART 1 HERE 10/17/14 Today I spent several hours delivering a lecture about the theories and practices behind noninvasive hormone measurement and operating hormone assays. Although there was a little bit of a language barrier, the material was well received and several of the trainees said it was very helpful to understand why certain procedures are done and how important it is to follow protocols for each procedure. Because the lab set up had gone so smoothly I was ahead of schedule and elected to give the trainees the afternoon off. This also gave Morgan and me an opportunity to explore the Base. Although not very big, it is a well done with exhibits that allow close viewing of giant pandas. I was particularly pleased to see Tai Shan. When I was at the Smithsonian, I worked with colleagues on the AI of Mei Xiang at the National Zoo. Several months later she gave birth to Tai Shan. He was the first cub born from AI by the Smithsonian team, a great achievement. We have since gone on to use that same approach many times with success at National Zoo and Zoo Atlanta. Seeing Tai Shan lounge about here in Dujiangyan was very satisfying. The Base is a great facility to see giant pandas close up without crowds. 10/18-19/14 Morgan I spent the weekend sightseeing around Dujiangyan. The Hotel, as mentioned previously, is within walking distance of an old town area that is very well done. Additionally, the old town area is adjacent to a mountain that has many beautiful temples. I can see this part of the city and the Base as a worthwhile reason to visit Dujiangyan, especially if already visiting Chengdu. 10/20/14 Today is the start of what will be a very busy week. I will need to work with the two lab technicians on setting up the hormone assays, while [...]

Dr. David Kersey’s China Journal | Part 1 of 3

Dr. David Kersey kept a journal while he was in China in October to set up an endocrine lab at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda Dujiangyan Base.   We'll be featuring his notes over the next three weeks.  His trip was sponsored by Pandas International and we can not thank him enough for the work he has done and continues to do on behalf of the pandas. Here is his first entry: My name is David Kersey, and I have been involved in giant panda research for 13, going on 14, years. My research has focused on the reproductive biology of the species. Over the years I have published several studies that have improved the collective knowledge of giant panda reproduction and have been involved in several successful artificial inseminations (AI). The purpose of my trip was to set up a hormone lab at the Dujiangyan Base and provide training for the staff that will operate the lab. The lab will be used for determining reproductive status of females in heat and also serve as a center for field studies looking to understand hormones of animals, not just giant pandas, in the wild. Although measuring hormones has been done for years, this new lab will employ new techniques that will be more efficient than previous methods. Additionally, with greater interest in understanding the biology of animals in giant panda habitat, this will be the first lab of its kind to service those studies – a very exciting prospect. Collectively, this lab will function like none other before, serving as a hub of hormone research and reproductive assessment for the benefit of giant panda conservation and species that share its expansive habitat. There is much more to discuss about the new lab, but I must acknowledge the generosity of a few organizations before I go any further. First, Pandas International (PI) is leading supporting not only my effort to set up the lab and train the staff, but also supply and equip these very important labs. Under the leadership of Suzanne Braden, PI is leading the charge to provide [...]

Meet the 2013 Panda Cubs by Name

We are always so excited when we find out the names of the previous years cubs - this year was no exception!  So, here they are: Mother Date of Birth Gender Name of Cub Meaning Hai Zi June 22, 2013 Female Xin Xin   鑫鑫 a lot of gold, prosperous Hai Zi June 22, 2013 Female Miao Miao 淼淼 vast water Cao Cao July 6, 2013 Female Hua Jiao 华娇 tender, pretty and lovely girl of China Cao Cao July 6, 2013 Male Hua Hu 华虎 Tiger of China Xi Xi July 10, 2013 Male Hua Bao 华豹 Leopard of China Xin Nier July 13, 2013 Female Hua Ni 华妮 Little girl of China Hua Mei July 18, 2013 Male Hua Rong 华荣 Honor of China Xi Mei July 24, 2014 Female Xi Le 喜乐 Happy and happy Zhuang Mei August 5, 2013 Male Xing Ya 星雅 *Star Ya Zhuang Mei August 5, 2013 Female Xing An 星安 *Star An Gong Zhu August 11, 2013 Female Wu Wen 武雯 Flower shape cloud Shui Xiu August 12, 2013 Male Hua Yang 华阳 Sun of China Ye Ye August 14, 2013 Female Hua Yan 华妍 Beauty of China Feng Yi August 18, 2013 Male Gong Gong 贡贡 tribute, present, gift Na Na August 27, 2013 Male Shun Shun 舜舜 name of an ancient empera Ying Ying August 29, 2013 Male Sen Sen 森森 Forest Ge Ge September 2, 2013 Female Hua Li 华丽 good looking girl of China * Ya and An together is Ya’an, name of the city Cubs in blue have been lifetime adopted.  All others are available for adoption.  To learn more about adopting a panda visit our ADOPTION PAGE.

Please Help us Welcome David Kersey, PhD to the PI Advisory Board

David Kersey, Ph.D., began his career in wildlife conservation in 2000 working as an endocrine technician at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI). In 2008 he earned his Ph.D. in Environmental Science from George Mason University. For his dissertation, he conducted research at SCBI in collaboration with Chinese colleagues to study the reproductive and adrenal biology of the male and female giant panda. During this time, Dr. Kersey refined pervious ideas of reproductive physiology and worked towards improving breeding and management of the species in captivity. He has authored and coauthored a number of research articles that address different aspects of endocrinology and reproduction in the giant panda. Among his many accomplishments is a refinement of when natural breeding and/or artificial insemination should be done based on urinary hormone levels. Most notably, Dr. Kersey trained Chinese colleagues at some the major breeding facilities in China in the hormone monitoring techniques he helped refine and develop, and set up a hormone lab at the Chengdu Research Base of Panda Breeding, which has since seen an increase in the number of cubs produced due to improved timing of breeding and insemination. Additionally, his expertise is sought in the US and abroad in consultation with giant panda breeding. Currently, Dr. Kersey is an Assistant Professor of Physiology at Western University of Health Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine, where he is Course Leader of Veterinary Basic Sciences, and member of the physiology content expert team. Dr. Kersey continues to work with colleagues in the US and China on giant panda reproduction in an effort to improve conservation efforts for the species.

Spotlight Panda – Mei Ling

Mei Ling ( 美龄), whose name means Beautiful Soul, was born at Wolong on September 1, 2004.  He is the youngest of the first set of  twins born to Hua Mei (whose mother is Bai Yun at the San Diego Zoo).  Mei Ling’s twin (originally named Hua Ling) is Tuan Tuan – new father to Yuan Zai at the Taipei Zoo in Taiwan. Mei Ling has traveled a lot during his first 10 years but is now happily in residence at Dujiangyan where he just happens to live across from his uncle, Yun Zi.