Two adorable Giant Panda babies have recently celebrated their first birthday.
Their birthday celebration included a lot of yummy snacks, naps, and playtime. Jiajia and Yuanyuan were named after the national park they were born in. The birth of these twins last year was important because it meant that the Shaanxi Province has fully mastered their breeding program.
Why is the breeding program necessary?
Pandas are endangered right now. A combination of habitat loss and low birth rate (one cub every two years) has caused their population to plummet these past few decades. Newborn panda cubs are very fragile and panda moms spend so much time and energy caring for their cubs that it shortens their lifespans.
To try and rehabilitate the population, China has started a breeding program. These programs help the panda moms take care of their cubs and ensure the longevity and survival of both animals.
Additionally, Pandas can actually live at least 10 years longer while in captivity. These programs have been incredibly successful. In 1980, there were only 109 pandas living in the Qinling Mountains. Now, there are more than 345.
PANDA PARTY: Twin giant pandas Jiajia and Yuanyuan celebrate their first birthday at a breeding center in China's Shaanxi Province. https://abcn.ws/306jdoT
Posted by ABC News on Sunday, July 12, 2020
Most Panda breeding programs are in China, but there are also a few in the United States.
There are actually four zoos in the United States where you can see a Giant Panda.
- San Diego Zoo: The largest zoo is the San Diego Zoo in California. This zoo currently has three pandas on site. Their breeding program has been very successful and they have returned five panda cubs to China for reintroduction to the wild. If you visit the San Diego Zoo, you may be able to catch one of the older pandas relaxing in their exhibit.
- Zoo Atlanta: Zoo Atlanta in Georgia has a few pandas as well. While not as well known as San Diego, this program has also been successful. They have been able to send three panda cubs to China for reintroduction.
- Memphis Zoo: The Memphis Zoo in Tennessee has two giant pandas. They haven’t sent any panda cubs to China yet, but you’ll be able to view these soft fellas in their exhibit if you plan your visit well.
- Smithsonian National Zoo: This zoo in Washington D.C has three pandas on site. They were able to send one panda cub back to China for reintroduction.
All of the zoos listed above have Panda Cams available on their websites where you can view their resident pandas. They are usually sleeping or eating, but they can be quite mischievous when they are active.
There’s an international effort to save pandas.
China has set up 65 nature preserves to try and protect what remains of the panda’s natural habitat, but they still need help to rehabilitate the panda population.
In 1990, the San Diego Zoo partnered with Chinese colleagues to devise a conservation strategy. Together, they developed a milk-formula that raised panda cub survival rate from zero to 95%.
Scientists believe the new population of 300 captive pandas will only grow. The birth and year-long survival of Jiajia and Yuanyuan make conservationists very optimistic.
These panda cubs are adorable, and they are also a sign of a brighter future, with more forests that pandas can populate and a rehabilitated population of pandas.
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