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San Diego Zoo welcomes back giant pandas

News
Article

This comes after signing a cooperative agreement with China Wildlife Conservation Association

Photo credit: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

Photo credit: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (SDZWA) has been in partnership with researchers in China for almost 30 years in which the organization is focused on protecting and recovering giant pandas. After signing a cooperative agreement with China Wildlife Conservation Association and filing a permit application with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, giant pandas have been welcomed back to the San Diego Zoo.1

"We are humbled by the potential opportunity of continuing our collaborative conservation efforts to secure the future for giant pandas. As such, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is taking important steps to ensure we are prepared for a potential return. This includes sharing our detailed conservation plans with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure alignment for the greater benefit of giant pandas," said Megan Owen, PhD, vice president of Conservation Science in a news release.1

The ongoing partnership has aimed at improving scientific understanding of giant panda biology, the care and wellness they need, and how they can still thrive in a changing climate. SDZWA and the China Wildlife Conservation Association combined efforts to downgrade the giant panda from “endangered” to “vulnerable” in 2021 on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.1 With this huge progression, the 2 organizations are continuously working toward creating an even better future for giant pandas and other wildlife.

Key discoveries made possible through this partnership include reproductive behavior, physiology, nutritional needs, habitat requirements, and genetic investigations. The following are some examples of innovative research and achievements made:1

  • The formulation of a specialized milk formula for giant pandas and the implementation of neonatal conservation techniques resulted in a remarkable surge in survival rates for nursery-reared cubs from 5% to 95%.
  • A successful artificial insemination of a giant panda outside of China.
  • Chinese scientists have been utilizing GPS technology to track wild giant pandas at the Foping National Nature Reserve.

SDZWA is currently focused on improving giant pandas’ biggest challenge today with climate change, habitat fragmentation, and population isolation.

"Pandas in our care and in the care of Chinese colleagues at conservation facilities play an important role as assurance against extinction and loss of genetic diversity in their native habitats, as well as a source population for reintroductions," said Owen. "Our partnership over the decades has served as a powerful example of how—when we work together—we can achieve what was once thought to be impossible. San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is uniquely positioned to collaborate toward a shared goal of creating a sustainable future for giant pandas."

Reference

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and China Wildlife Conservation Association sign a new cooperative agreement for giant panda collaboration. News release. San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. February 22, 2024. Accessed February 22, 2024. https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/san-diego-zoo-wildlife-alliance-and-china-wildlife-conservation-association-sign-a-new-cooperative-agreement-for-giant-panda-collaboration-302068429.html

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