When we think of endangered animals, the first one likely to come to mind is the Giant Panda. China’s national animal is an emblem for the World Wildlife Fund, universally symbolizing the conservation movement. Recently, the iconic animal has been declared to be no longer an endangered species, thanks to over a decade of tireless conservation efforts in China and around the world. However, there is no doubt the animal is still vulnerable, and it’s just as important today to continue conserving the Giant Panda.
On the China service interim this year, eye reporter Chloe Venn got an exclusive look into the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP) in Chengdu, and it’s efforts towards keeping the adorable species alive.
Take the panda ‘Dai Li’ for an example. Dai Li is a permanent resident at the CCRCGP in Chengdu. Dai Li was born in the wild healthy, happy and independent. A few years ago, he developed a terrible infection on one of his hind legs. Thankfully, he managed to limp his way down to a village, where he was rescued by the villagers there. He was then sent to CCRCGP. The conservation center took Dai Li in with open arms. Unfortunately, when he arrived, his leg had to be amputated in surgery to save his life. He was affectionately named ‘Dai Li’ by the panda keepers at the park, which is an abbreviation of the phrase, ‘hopefully one day he will stand up again’.
Since then, Dai Li, among dozens of other rescued pandas, has lived at the panda center. He eats an average of 35 pounds of bamboo daily, with meals of bamboo broken, washed and laid in his enclosure three times a day. Along with this, he is also fed carrot sticks, apples and “panda cake.” Panda cake is prepared with rice flour, corn flour, eggs and other ingredients to provide extra nutrients that bamboo lacks. In fact, Dai Li enjoys these cakes so much that instead of eating it right away, he pulls it with his mouth, holds it with his paw and chews it slowly to savor it. Keepers at the panda center work day and night preparing meals, cleaning his enclosure and cage and managing his health. Not to mention, they also take care of another forty pandas. The tireless dedication of the workers there is inspiring, and each step of every process is handled with care, affection, and professionalism.
Although pandas like Dai Li may not ever return to the wild, they are still crucial for the conservation process. He can be researched and analyzed to help scientists gain a better understanding on his species. However, CCRCGP’s main objective is to rehabilitate pandas until they are in a healthier condition to be released back to the wild. In fact, because of centers like CCRCGP, the number of Giant Pandas living in the wild has nearly doubled in the past decade.
During her time at the center, Chloe managed to film an interview with Elsa on her point of view on pandas from working as a panda keeper.