Have you ever seen a panda? If not you are in trouble. Pandas are fighting a losing battle, slowly becoming extinct. These lumbering giants used to live throughout China and Southeast Asia, but today there are less than 1,600 pandas living in the wild, in just 6 isolated areas in central and southwestern China. There are a couple groups that are working to save the pandas, for example in San Diego, California, they have recently had a baby panda (which you can see at this address, http://sd68.reachlocal.net/pandacam/index.html ) also at Chengdu Panda Base, Wolong National Nature Reserve, and Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary scientists and people are trying to save the pandas. Scientists at The Chinese Academy of Science's Institute of Zoology believe that cloning may be the answer. They have experimented with putting a panda's DNA into a rabbit's egg and succeeded in creating a panda's embryo, which they implanted into a female cat, but it failed to give birth to a panda. But we can't rely on cloning to save the pandas, cloning is in its earliest stages and by the time it can be fully utilized it might be too late. Even if we managed to find the answer to saving pandas, they wouldn't have anywhere to live, pandas eat huge amounts of bamboo, and the bamboo forests in the world are disappearing due to deforestation. Another reason why the pandas are becoming extinct is because of the way they breed. When pandas move into captivity they lose their instinct for breeding, making it a lot harder for zookeepers to breed pandas and keep the babies alive. Also in the wild they have a small period, the females’ estrus, which is 1-3 days, in between March and May when they can mate. Then it gets worse, approximately 50% of panda births are twins, you may think this is good but it isn’t, because one mother panda typically can’t care for 2 cubs so she has to abandon the weaker cub all alone to die. Giant Pandas are protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna but that doesn’t stop them from dying from other causes. Because the pandas are incredibly popular when displayed at zoos they get substantial revenue and so more zoos want to import pandas. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has made a, “Giant Panda Policy” which makes sure that people that are importing pandas are not contributing to their downfall by doing so. Conservationists fear that humans will, “love the panda to death.” But maybe love is just what they need.
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