We’re with pandas – Got some panda stories for you

BEIJING, June 16, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — An interview with Sun Wanlu, editor of China.org.cn, on the international cooperation on Pandas:


Yaya, China’s friendship envoy panda that traversed the Pacific to America 20 years ago, recently came back to China. Along with her return, pandas have once again become a viral hit around the world. In the past few decades, every panda that has lived outside China has captured the attention of countless people. These envoy pandas are a carrier of love for the animal from people all over the globe, and also lay witness to the communication and cooperation between China and other countries.

Just right here in the Dujiangyan Base of China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Panda (the Center), many pandas live their own stories.

In 1996, Baiyun and her male companion Shishi left for San Diego Zoo in the U.S. They were among the first batch of pandas that China sent to other countries for science and research cooperation. Back then, the two countries carried out many cases of interesting and cutting-edge research based on the programs China launched, supported by America’s experience in animal nutrition and animal behavior studies. For example, in some online video clips, we can sometimes hear pandas baaing like sheep or chirping like birds, meaning they are rutting — that’s just an example of one takeaway from the two countries’ cooperation back then.

There is also gossip about Baiyun. It is said, when Baiyun was younger, she had a fiery temper. One time when she was in rutting season, her male companion Shishi was totally frigid, sitting there idly eating his food. So Baiyun went right on and gave Shishi a punch… Fortunately, later on, some Chinese experts went to America with artificial insemination techniques for pandas which enabled Baiyun gave birth to her cub Huamei.

Huamei is the first giant panda that survived her birth in America, as well as the first panda born outside China that returned to her home country later. Her name Huamei, meaning China and America, bears the goodwill of China-U.S. cooperation.

In these years, research staff from China have conquered “the trinity” of challenges for captivated pandas, namely challenges for rutting, for mating and conception, and for cub survival. Techniques to tackle these problems were introduced to other countries, and further integrated with local studies and techniques, enabling considerably more pandas to breed outside China.

We just mentioned that Baiyun wasn’t satisfied with Shishi, so in 2003, the Center selected another Mr. Right for Baiyun and sent him to America, and that is Gaogao. The couple ended up breeding five cubs in America, all by spontaneous mating.

Every year or two, a new zoo would appear on the list of zoos that partnered with China on the conservation and research of giant pandas. Currently, China is working with 22 zoos in 19 countries. Dialogue and collaboration in behavioral studies, breeding and deliveries, and rearing management are all important elements in giant panda conservation.

Six years ago, I talked about the giant pandas’ special contribution to China’s diplomacy in a previous episode. Today, I learned more about cooperation on pandas’ conservation and research, offering me a peek into the changes and developments in cooperation on pandas between China and other countries. For both China and the receiver countries, giant pandas are beyond a symbol of friendship — it is more of an icon of rare species, and a kaleidoscope that epitomizes humanity’s joint efforts for protecting the ecological environment and building a community of life for man and nature.

China Mosaic 
We’re with pandas! Got some panda stories for you!