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Black and White Retrospective: 2010

2010 marked the 10th anniversary of Pandas International and its continuing dedication to the preservation of the endangered Giant Panda. In case you missed them, here are some news highlights from 2010.

Panda International will resume its regularly scheduled newsletter in 2011.


Tai Shan
It was announced that Tai Shan, the first surviving giant panda cub born at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, would leave the United States for China.

China began to build a giant panda breeding base in northwestern Shaanxi Province, which is expected to add at least eight cubs a year to the population of the endangered species. With an investment of 69.54 million yuan (10.2 million U.S. dollars), the Qinling giant panda breeding base will cover 287 hectares.

Samantha Lao
Samantha Lao, a fourth-grader in Dix Hills, New York, combined the two things she loved most: pandas and writing and self-published a children's book, "The Scared Panda." A portion of the book's profits will benefit Pandas International.


Yun Zi
Dozens of people lined up for the first public viewing of Yun Zi, the newest baby panda at the San Diego Zoo. Yun Zi is a wonderful addition to the zoo.

Adelaide, Australia's giant pandas went on show for the first time, Pandas Wang Wang and Funi were in quarantine, restricted to the vast indoor areas of their $8 million exhibit, but were visible behind a floor-to-ceiling wall of glass.

Northwest China's Shaanxi Province set up two more national level nature reserves to protect the habitat for a rare giant panda species unique to the Qinling Mountain Range. The new reserves brought the province's total to six .

Ten giant panda cubs were on display at the Shanghai World Expo.

Pennies 4 Pandas
Pandas International began a new Pennies4Pandas program. The program is a child focused fundraising program to raise money to replant the bamboo destroyed in the 2008 earthquake; teach children the rewards and value of philanthropic efforts; and, raise awareness of the pandas' plight.

Pandas International
Pandas International celebrated its 10th anniversary with a special gala at the Wildlife Experience in Denver.


Tai Shan
Dr. Tang Chunxiang, of the China conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong Nature Reserve, reported on Tai Shan's progress after his return to China, saying that the 4.5 year old male panda likes the food and environment in his new home. Tai Shan keeps himself busy climbing trees, running around and eating bamboo. He is very energetic and has put on weight.

Lin Ping
The eight-month-old panda cub Lin Ping has generated more than Bt13.5 million in revenue in the first two months of this year, according to the director of Chiang Mai Zoo in Thailand. According to Thanapat Pongamorn, Lin Ping's twice daily shows were the biggest earners for the zoo. Last month alone some 545,374 people watched Lin Ping.


Xing Bang
Xing Bang, a giant panda born in Japan, was returned to China. The 4.5-year-old male was flown to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan from Tokyo. Xing Bang would be kept in quarantine for about one month. He also needed time to adapt to the new climate, environment and diet before he could meet the public.

Travel Channel in China
A television documentary, shot over 19 years with infrared-triggered cameras featuring giant pandas in the wild started airing on the Travel Channel in China. The documentary, "Real Panda," tells the story of wild pandas living in west China's Qinling Mountainous Range. It offered audiences a rare glimpse of how giant pandas live in the wild: a panda cub being stalked by a stoat; a mother panda forcing her son away after maturing; and pandas courting their partners.


People from around the world were able to watch Adelaide's giant pandas Wang Wang and Funi live via the internet. The "panda cam" vision is available on the Adelaide Zoo's website 24 hours a day for the 10 years the pandas will remain in the city.

Three giant pandas made their debut at their new home in east China's Anhui Province. The "Eco-Eden," the pandas' new home in Wannan National Wild Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Xiuning County, opened to the public on April 28. Hualong, Jinxin and Xidou are from Bifengxia Giant Panda Center in Ya'an City, southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Tai Shan
In honor of Tai Shan, Pandas Unlimited donated a wonderful gift to the Bifengxia Panda Center and all the Pandas of the Wolong Nature Reserve: a new state of the art Universal Ultrasound Machine. Pandas International provided training in the US to Drs. Deng and Wang on the new equipment.


Xiaoxiangling Mountains
China's government moved to boost the country's smallest and most isolated population of giant pandas after scientists warned that the animals could soon disappear. Giant pandas are highly endangered, particularly in the Xiaoxiangling Mountains on the Tibetan plateau's eastern edge. When researchers led by ecologist Wei Fuwen of the Chinese Academy of Science's Institute of Zoology in Beijing screened DNA from 142 droppings collected from the area, they traced the scat to just 32 individuals. Genetic analysis showed that the pandas' numbers had plummeted from about 250 years ago, a time when Qing dynasty policies were encouraging farmers to settle the mountains. The booming human population's need for land and firewood whittled away the pandas' forest habitat by about 90% to two patches, split by a national highway, totaling 800 square km.

Zoologist are investigating the possibility the endangered giant panda has expanded its habitat in southwest China. Residents at a remote village in Sichuan Province have reported traces of the bears in a mountainous area where they were previously unknown.

The male giant panda Shu Xiang and the female, Qi Miao, were selected to go to Macau. Construction of the 3,000 square-meter panda pavilion in Seac Pai Van, which costs MOP80 million, was started and is expected to be completed in September.


Chinese zoologists hope a plan to gradually release captive-bred giant pandas into the wild will reduce the risk of inbreeding among the animals' wild partners. "To maintain the genetic diversity of the rare species, we plan to release healthy, smart and adaptable pandas into the wild after strict selection and years of training," said Li Desheng, deputy director of the Wolong China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center in southwestern Sichuan Province. The separation of habitats, resulting from human activities, has fragmented the wild population of giant pandas, which could limit mating alternatives and lead to a high possibility of inbreeding, Li said.

Giant pandas have attracted more than 800,000 visitors from the Yangtze River Delta since the zoo was opened to the public five months ago, according to the Shanghai Zoo on June 16. The 10 giant pandas, selected and sent by the China Wolong Giant Panda Conservation and Research Center, are living happy lives in Shanghai.

Adelaide Zoo had 70 percent more visitors since its giant pandas arrived about six months ago. Wang Wang and Funi lured large crowds over the first six months. 328,000 people came from far and wide to see them.


Fragmented Habitats
Giant panda habitats are too fragmented and need to be reconnected in order for the endangered animals to maintain their genetic diversity, a new study shows. The study, conducted by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the China Wildlife Conservation Association, both in Beijing, was published July 23 in the open-access journal BMC Genetics.

The Wolong China Conservation and Research Centre, in Sichuan Province, returned four giant pandas – Zi Zhu, Ying Ping, Cao Cao and Zhang Ka to a woodland enclosure near the base which was built to help giant pandas live in the wild. The giant pandas, aged four to five, were expected to give birth and live in the 20,000 sq meter forest until the cubs are aged three to four.

Panda Conservation
Though much effort and many resources have been expended to protect the endangered giant panda, research by an international team of scientists said that much of the suitable panda habitat is outside the nature reserves and areas where the panda is reported to live. "This research can help the develop comprehensive strategic plans for more effective conservation of the panda," said Jianguo "Jack" Liu, MSU University Distinguished Professor of Fisheries and Wildlife who holds the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability and serves as director of the MSU Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS). Liu is internationally known for his work on environmental sustainability and coupled human and natural systems.

Ueno Zoo, Tokyo
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government signed a deal Monday with China to rent two giant pandas for Ueno Zoo, which has been without a panda since Ling Ling died in 2008. The metropolitan government will ask the public to nickname the two pandas, a 143-kg male and 124-kg female. The animals will be moved in February 2011 with a public showing the following month. Under the lease arrangement, Tokyo will contribute $950,000 a year to wildlife preservation in China.


Another panda was born in Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo, the second in Europe to be conceived naturally in captivity. The 10-year-old mother, Yang Yang, who made history on August 23, 2007, by giving birth to Fu Long -- Europe's first panda to be naturally conceived in captivity -- gave birth a second time on Monday afternoon.

Su Lin and Zhen Zhen
Two giant panda sisters born at the San Diego Zoo will be taken off public exhibit Monday in preparation for their journey to China. Su Lin, born in 2005, and Zhen Zhen, born in 2007, returned to the Bifengxia Panda Center, where they will be part of a conservation breeding program. They are adapting well.


Twin pandas were born in Spain on September 7. They were conceived through artificial insemination in a joint project by Spain's National Research Council and scientists from China. Weighing about 1 kilo each, the cubs are the first of their species to be born in Spain since 1982 and only the third litter to be born in Europe, according to Chinese veterinarian Yuan Bo, who travelled from Beijing to assist in the birth and first months.

Record number of births
China's panda population boomed this year thanks to a record number of births in captivity, a rare accomplishment for the endangered species known for being poor breeders. The most recent addition -- the birth of female twins -- brought the total number of births this year to 19, surpassing the record of 18 births in 2006.Giant panda Yo Yo gave birth to healthy twins at the reserve last week. This year's record number of births is attributed to better research on panda nutrition, artificial insemination, genetics and creating a more natural habitat for the pandas to thrive in.

Lun Lun
Giant panda Lun Lun was reported to be pregnant at Zoo Atlanta. Animal and veterinary teams estimated that a birth could occur in 10 days to two weeks. It would be the first panda birth in the U.S. this year. Memphis, San Diego and Washington, D.C., zoos also have pandas, but none has produced a baby panda this year.


The Scotsman News site reported that a pair of pandas will be heading to Edinburgh sometime between September 2011 and March 2012. The paper reported that the zoo plans to have everything ready by September of next year. Final paperwork is still to be completed and can only be signed by the president or prime minister of China.

Panda Bones found
In September, three teams of villagers of Pengpu Country in Qingjiang district of Chongqing found 10 pieces of strange stones shaped like bones the day after blasting the area. Later, a total of over 100 pieces were found. Experts examined the pieces and have come to the conclusion that the bones belong to giant pandas, oriental stegodons and other mammals.

Loss of Habitat
Experts warned that unless something is done about the fragmentation of the pandas' living areas, the giant panda could become extinct from in-breeding within two-three generations. The giant pandas' habitat is being divided into smaller and smaller areas by the building of new roads, housing and other transportation routes, which stop the panda from crossing into other area for food and mating. Without inter-breeding, the pandas are at an increased risk of diseases and other birth related problems.


Pandas at the Expo in Shanghai
The 10 giant pandas on loan from the Wolong Giant Panda Research Center for display during the World Expo in Shanghai will all return in two years, an official from the Wolong Natural Reserve said today. According to the agreement the reserve signed with Shanghai authorities, eight of the 10 Expo pandas, three males and eight females, will stay in the city until 2012, while the other two will be shown in a zoo in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province.

Little Big Panda Cartoon
China's first 3D animated film, "Little Big Panda" was released in cinemas on February 3, 2011. Director Greg Manwaring introduced the audience to the whole process of making the cartoon. The story of "Little Big Panda" is set in a mountainous area in China. The ancestors of "Panda" are trying to find a new panda to fulfill the task of saving the pandas. A little panda is chosen by them who will be the lifesaver of the whole group.

The pair of giant pandas, given by China's central government as gifts to the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR), are getting accustomed to their new habitat. The giant pandas named Kai Kai and Xin Xin arrived in Macao earlier this month. They seemed to enjoy their new home and played happily at the panda pavilion.

National Zoo, Washington DC
Washington's pandas will stay at the National Zoo at least a little while longer. Mei Xiang and Tian Tian are on a 10-year, $10 million loan from China that expired at the end of 2010. The Smithsonian's National Zoo continues to negotiate a new agreement for panda breeding and research. China has granted a temporary extension for Mei Xiang and Tian Tian to remain until a new agreement is signed. Officials expect one in January. Pandas have a long history in Washington. The first panda couple, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing (sing-sing), arrived in 1972 and lived more than 20 years at the zoo after President Richard Nixon's historic visit to China.
And to close...
When is a panda not a panda? When it's a researcher wearing a panda costume to ensure that the cub's environment has limited human influence. Pandas International provided the first layer of clothing to prevent human scent from seeping into the costume.

Pandas International is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the Giant Panda.
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