Reintroduction Program – 2012

Phase 3

Cao Cao and Tao Tao were released into the 3rd and final phase of training in May of 2012. This was a key stage for releasing Tao Tao into the wild. Accompanied by his mother, both Pandas were moved to a 240,000-square-meter third stage training enclosure located in an area about 2,000 meters above sea level in a mountainous forest. The forest vegetation and geographical features are similar to those of the second stage training base. Along with a very large semi-wild enclosure the researchers also included recordings of other wild animals which live in the same environment.  These recordings were crucial in teaching Tao Tao to avoid other animals which could cause him harm.


Tao Tao had been wandering farther away from his mother, Cao Cao and two is generally the age when cubs leave their mother in the wild. On October 11, 2012 a major step in diversifying the gene pool among wild giant pandas took place.  Tao Tao who turned two on August 3, 2012, was released into the wild into the Liziping Nature Reserve at  Shimian, Ya’an in Sichuan Province.    The Nature Reserve is in the Xiaoxiangling Mountains.  Liziping Nature Reserve was chosen by experts in the reintroduction field.

Huang Yan, Vice Director of CCRCGP, in charge of the reintroduction program, stated, “This is a significant event for both captive and wild pandas. By following Tao Tao and his life in the wild, other captive pandas may one day also be released into the wild thus helping this beloved and endangered species to grow.” Tao Tao’s genes will help the wild pandas in this region of China.

Tao Tao’s movements are monitored with a special GPS collar for safety, and for gathering important research data about the lives of these solitary animals. Pandas International supplied the special GPS collar which Tao Tao wears today.