Wild training method
Cubs raised by the mother pandas (the wild training method as known to the public)
The chosen panda cubs
The parents themselves are wild pandas or wild pandas, with precious wild blood.
Brief description of the method
The training is divided into three phases – all three phases are carried out in a simulated wild training field (the second and third stage training fields are indistinguishable from a wild field). Cubs grow up independently from their mothers by birth, they do not get into contact with humans and the same kind. They do not eat artificial food. The breeder, the researcher cover the entire face and body with a special panda suit coated with the mother’s stool. The mothers teach the cubs survival skills such as to look for food, look for water source, mark territories, drive invaders, and avoid natural enemies.
Duration of training
Two years to two years and a half
Cubs which have undergone this training
Tao Tao (male), Zhang Xiang (female), Hua Jiao (female), Xin Yuan (Female), Xue Xue (female), Zhang Meng (female), Hua Yan (female)
Cubs which have successfully returned to the wild after the training
Tao Tao (male), Zhang Xiang (female), Hua Jiao (female), Zhang Meng (female), Hua Yan (female)
Cubs which have failed to return to the wild after the training
Xin Yuan (Female), Xue Xue (female)
Success rate of returning to the wild using this method
Research institute that has implemented this training method
China Panda Conservation Research Center (referred as the Center)
The importance of Panda Wild Training Project
The basic goal of giant panda breeding is to establish a self-sustaining captive population of pandas. The ultimate goal is to release captive individual pandas into the wild environment, and to rebuild or restore wild populations.
The initial stage of development of captive giant panda population is a process of gradually reducing dependence on wild populations. Once the stage of self-sustainment is reached, that is, the dependence on wild populations is eliminated, there would naturally be an ability to provide captive individuals to the wild. Then, we could rebuild or rehabilitate the wild populations, and to achieve a positive interaction between the wild and captive populations.
1) A proper release of captive individuals is conducive to the improvement of the survival of wild giant pandas.
As mentioned above, for isolated small populations of wild giant pandas, proper addition of captive individuals can increase the population size, enhance its ability to cope with environmental fluctuations and other random disturbances. It can also improve the genetic structure of the population and increase genetic diversity, reduce inbreeding, thereby maintaining the potential for long-term evolution and development of the population in nature.
2) After reaching the number of populations capable of self-sustainment, reintroduction can to a certain extent reduce the load brought by the increased size of captive populations.
After achieving the basic goal of self-sustainment, maintaining more races in a captive environment is not only a waste of the race itself, but it also brings an increased pressure on human, material and financial resources. In this case, a proper release of captive individuals is not a bad idea either for the development of races or for the reduction of government resources.
3) Accumulate experiences with returning pandas to the wild and provide references for other large and medium-sized endangered species
Releasing them to the wild is a risky project. The wild release of this special species is helpful to provide examples and references for the release of other captive species in all aspects.