Between the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and the China Research & Conservation Center for the Giant Panda, scientist are trying different methods for releasing giant pandas back into the wild.
Today we will cover how the CRCCGP program is set up and progressing.
At the CRCCGP, "Reintroduction is underway both at the old Wolong Panda Center, Hetaoping, in sections not damaged by the earthquake and at the Bifengxia Center. When the new Wolong Panda Center is completed, the reintroduction area will be at Huangcaoping.
After the unfortunate death of Xiang Xiang, the entire reintroduction program was reevaluated and scientists determined it would be better for the animal being released never to have had direct contact with humans. There are currently five mothers and cubs in the reintroduction program. The mothers are placed in a semi- wild enclosure and give birth with no human intervention in manmade dens. The cubs are cared for by the mother while being monitored by caretakers. Behavioral research has already shown there is increased communication in the semi- wild enclosures between the mother and the cub. Since the cub can get out of the mother’s sight, she is constantly calling to the cub and making sure he/she is in sight and safe.
Vets and caretakers dress in panda suits when they do health checks and move the cubs. The hope is the cubs will have a natural fear of humans if they are released. The first cub born under this program was Tao Tao born to Cao Cao." Source: Pandas International.
Tao Tao was born on Aug. 3, 2010, weighing in at 205 grams, at a semi-wild panda training center in Hetaoping. At Hetaoping he was raised with as little human interaction as possible. In February 2011, Tao Tao and Cao Cao were transferred to a separate enclosure to undergo the second stage wild training at the Wolong Nature Reserve, where Tao Tao learned several basic survival skills from his mother, such as climbing and gathering food.
Here is an early video of mother and cub during their first phase of wild training and their movement into a larger area which would begin Phase 2.
Now we have news that Tao Tao has now been transferred into his third and final stage of wild training.
This is the update from the CRCCGP website, "According to the current project planning, the giant panda to receive training at least need to go through three training phases to fully return to the natural environment. "Tao Tao's entry into the third phase of Field Training Area was built in 2003, is located in the upper part of the second phase of the Field Training, the altitude of 2150 ~ 2500m, the forest vegetation type, plant composition, bamboo species and the environment the second phase of Field Training Field Training area of approximately 240,000 square meters. "Tao Tao" in the third stage the main objective to strengthen the movement and orientation, to learn to look for shelter, strong vigilance, and ability to escape; with similar exchanges, initial independent living. Field Training and research methods used in the third stage is similar to the second stage, an additional "Tao Tao" predators and associated animal identification, as well as the ability to avoid predators training. "Tao Tao" the last will be the expert assessment after it has completed the third stage of the training objectives, will be formally released into the wild".
The new base that will take over for wild introduction in Huangcaoping is still under construction, thanks to Panda International for these photos of the new base. It is scheduled to open sometime in the Spring of 2012.