Monday, December 6, 2010

The ultimate in pandering: How Chinese scientists are dressing up as bears to prepare cubs for the wild


Who are you? Researchers carefully take the four-month-old cub's temperature during a physical examination in Hetaoping Research and Conservation Centre for the Giant Panda

With all the care of loving parents, these giant pandas gently handle a young cub.

But look a little closer and you will see the pair are in fact of scientists attempting to ensure the helpless youngster is not affected by human influence.

The workers were pictured in China's Sichuan Province carrying out a physical examination of the four-month-old cub while wearing costumes that would not look out of place at a charity fun run.

Taking its temperature before returning it to its seemingly natural habitat where it is monitored by hidden cameras, the researchers are helping to prepare the cub for its eventual release into the wild.

The release would be the first of its kind for the Hetaoping Research and Conservation Centre for the Giant Panda, situated in Wolong National Nature Reserve.

It is the latest step in china's efforts to conserve the critically-endangered animal, whose numbers total an estimated 2-3,000 in the wild.

Helping hand: One of the scientists carries the cub away for the examination

Handle with care: The cub is placed in a box to be taken from its habitat

A native of central-western and south-western China, the panda's diet is 99 per cent bamboo which they have to eat almost constantly because of its lo-nutrient content.

It is now confined to just a few mountain ranges after farming and deforestation drove it out of lowland regions.

The species is now completely dependent on humans for its future survival.

Headless: The researcher carries the panda away, confident his human shape has not been seen

source: dailymail

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