Trained panda released
BEIJING - Agence France-Presse
Panda Taotao slowly makes its way toward a bamboo forest in Shimian. AFP photoA captive-bred Chinese panda has been released into the wild as part of efforts to help the struggling species, but this time with special survival training after one of the animals died in a previous attempt.
Two-year-old “Taotao” was taken from its mother and handlers and delivered to a nature reserve in southwestern Sichuan province on Thursday to brave the real world on its own, state-run Xinhua news agency said.
A previous effort ended in disappointment in 2006 when Taotao’s predecessor “Xiangxiang” died from injuries suffered in fights with wild pandas over food and territory just one year after being released.
Xinhua said scientists at the Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan went back to the drawing board, devising a new training and acclimatisation regime for Taotao that included handlers who wore full panda suits to prevent the animal becoming familiar with humans.
Scientists hope that, if successful, the Taotao project will prove a template for introducing captive-bred pandas into the forests to help increase the wild population and the species’ genetic diversity.