Last October, a major step in diversifying the gene pool among wild giant pandas took place. Tao Tao, a captive born panda, was released into the wild after two years of “training”. Since then, we have brought news of his life in the wild as we have received it from China. Thanks to China.org.cn, we have a new and exciting update:
China’s State Forestry Administration released a report last Monday highlighting the successes of Tao Tao’s life in the wild over the past eight months.
Since his release, a group of experts have been following Tao Tao with the help of a GPS collar (provided by Pandas International) around his neck, radio positioning tools and DNA extracted from its excrement. They have also been studying the panda’s activities and hormones, the SFA said. All indications are that Tao Tao, now three years old, is living a healthy life in the Liziping Nature Reserve in Shimian County, Sichuan Province.
In addition to surviving a cold winter, Tao Tao has also experienced the seasonal activities of his wild peers, including the mating season and interactions between groups of pandas, according to the administration. The first panda to be released into the wild in 2006, five-year-old Xiang Xiang, died in fights with other wild pandas for food and territory roughly a year after being introduced to the wild. Therefore Tao Tao’s successful first interaction with wild pandas stands as a significant success for the program.
“Unlike Xiang Xiang’s captive-bred environment, Tao Tao grew up in semi-wild conditions from a young age. Therefore, his fighting capabilities and survival skills were both significantly better than that of Xiang Xiang”, said Zhang Hemin, director of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda.