China: Pandas in 'semi' Wild Births

BEIJING, June 25 (UPI) — Pregnant pandas in a reserve in China will be released into the wild to try and introduce their cubs to a natural environment, researchers said.

The head of the Wolong panda reserve in China’s southwestern province of Sichuan said one or two pregnant pandas would be released into a semi-wild area by the end of the year, The Daily Telegraph (Britain) reported Friday.

The release area would be fenced but similar to the wilderness, reserve chief Zhang Hemin said, allowing researchers to monitor the animals.

“The pandas will give birth in this semi-wild environment and teach their cubs how to forage for food and survive in the wild,” Zhang said.

After a transitional period of about two years, the panda cubs will be released into wild mountain forests outside the enclosed zone.

Six pregnant pandas have been considered, and one or two will be chosen based on their health, temperament and survival skills, Zhang said.

Reserve personnel entering the enclosed zone, he said, will have to meld into the environment to help make it as wild an experience for the pandas as possible, he said.

“Zoo workers and vets who enter the zone will disguise themselves as pandas by donning a black-and-white fur coat and crawling on the ground,” Zhang said.

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