The Reluctant Pandas of China
The Giant Panda is universally loved around the world, but this amazing creature currently faces many threats. The giant panda population is small and isolated to China's mountainous areas in the south-west of the country. They are a national treasure and also protected by law. The Chinese government has set-up more than 30 reserves, but destruction of the local habitat and poaching continues to pose a threat to pandas living outside these reserves. With China's rapid economic development, it is becoming increasingly crucial to ensure the giant pandas survival.
It is an incredible fact that female giant pandas living in China can only become pregnant during a 12 to 24 hour window throughout the whole year. This of course presents many problems when it comes to successful breeding and the Chinese authorities have tried and continue to experiment with weird and wonderful ways to keep these amazing species from extinction - including panda porn! Females will give birth to one or two cubs, which are dependent on their mothers during the first few years of their life, and it is not uncommon for one of the cubs to die early in childhood. In the panda facilities in China, keepers will help to hand raise any twin cubs. One baby is always left with the mother and the keepers switch the twins every other day so one cub gets care and milk directly from the mother.
Tourism in China is currently on the rise and many people now combine China cruises down the mighty Yangtze River with a stop off in one of the Panda breeding centres. However, it is not just the Chinese authorities that are doing all the work when it comes to Giant panda survival. It is an international effort. For example, Researchers at the San Diego Zoo are currently studying pandas' scent marking, their nutritional needs and how they communicate with other. This kind of invaluable information all goes towards helping the researchers in China successfully breed and bring to adulthood as many giant pandas as possible.
A recent guest on one of China's luxury cruises who combined his holiday with a visit to a breeding centre said how lazy and docile the pandas seem to be. They are indeed solitary creatures and prefer to spend most of the time by themselves predominantly eating bamboo (at least 12 hours a day!). It will however require the international community's hard work, to keep these fascinating creatures from going extinct by opening up the panda centres for the public's enjoyment and understanding. Only that way will the international community realise the threats still facing these reluctant and treasured giants.
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