Reserves & Zoos

Between panda Centers in China and zoos around the world, there are over 650 giant pandas in captivity .


Panda Reserves for the Protection of the Giant Panda

In the 1940s, the Chinese government began initial conservation efforts to protect the Giant Pandas. The idea was to set aside safe areas where the animals would be protected in their natural habitat.

During the early 1960s, China’s State Council called upon the provinces to set aside land for the protection of China’s wildlife. Sichuan province responded quickly with a plan to create reserves to protect Giant Pandas and other animals in the area.

Today there are approximately 40 panda reserves across Southwestern China. Some are Nature Reserves providing a safe habitat for wild Giant Pandas, like a National Park Other reserves protect the wild Giant Pandas while having scientific research centers to study their behavior and for breeding captive Giant Pandas.

The reserves are intended to protect the Giant Panda’s natural habitat. Logging is extremely detrimental to the habitat so in 1998 a logging ban was implemented by the Chinese government to slow the destruction.

Poaching and illegal logging are still problems in some areas. Although Giant Pandas were once hunted for their pelts, most Giant Pandas that are injured or killed by poachers today are inadvertently harmed when Giant Pandas are caught in traps meant for musk deer, takin, and other animals

Bamboo, the Giant Panda’s primary food, flowers once every 10 to 100 years depending on the species and then dies off Historically, when bamboo in one area died off the Giant Pandas would move to a new area. The expansion of human populations resulting in roads, towns, power lines and logging for both fire wood and agriculture have made migration difficult for the Giant Pandas. In order to reduce this problem, corridors must be built within the reserves to allow the Giant Pandas to move freely from one area to another when the bamboo dies off.

Logging is a problem for the growth of the bamboo, as bamboo grows in the shade of the large fir trees. Logging has also resulted in the reduction of large old growth trees, the favorite spot for mothers with cubs to den or nest after they have a cub. This results in fewer safe dry places for the mother to raise her cub Scientists are experimenting with building artificial dens to resemble old growth trees.

Isolation is also a problem in the mating of wild Giant Pandas The same problems preventing Giant Pandas from finding new food when the bamboo dies also prevent male and female Giant Pandas from finding one another during the mating season. Consequently, building corridors is also extremely important to the mating process.

Purpose of the Panda Reserves

  • Protect the forest or habitat of the Giant Pandas
  • Protect bamboo, the Giant Pandas’ major food source
  • Provide corridors for Giant Panda migrations between habitat areas
  • Patrol the reserves to prevent poaching and logging
  • Patrol the reserves to search for sick or injured Giant Pandas
  • Take sick or injured Giant Pandas to nearest panda hospital for care
  • Conduct research on Giant Panda behavior, mating, breeding, diseases, etc.
  • Educate tourists and visitors about Giant Panda protection
  • Support communities adjacent to the reserves to minimize the need to use the Giant Panda habitat for their livelihood
  • Educate local residents about the value of conserving the Giant Pandas and how tourism to the region is beneficial

Global Pandas

In order to spread awareness and engage a larger audience in saving the giant panda, China has either gifted or leased giant pandas to zoos around the world. Giant Pandas can be found in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, South Korea,  Spain, Taiwan and the United States (Zoo Atlanta).