In December the world watched (and giggled) as panda researchers donned panda suits for the good of the species, in an effort to reduce human contact and prepare them for the wild. This time they dressed up for the transfer of Cao Cao and her cub Cao Gen to the outer ring of the Wuloong Panda Reserve in Sichuan.
Cao Cao began her training in preparation for release into the wild last year, which is when she gave birth to Cao Gen. The move this week is kind of a big deal, as Cao Gen will be the first cub born in a semi-natural environment to be released into the not-quite-wild.
When they aren’t moving the pandas, researches make as little contact as possible, observing them via an extensive video surveillance system instead. Cao Cao and her cub’s new environment is 40,000 square meters large at an elevation of 2,200 meters above sea level.
Researchers decided to move the pandas after reports that Cao Gen had been exhibiting wild instincts, snarling at humans during his physical examinations. This is a good thing, as it is an important instinct in the face of predators such as leopards in the wild.
And it’s soon to get even better than panda suits, if you can believe it. The reserve’s directors recently accepted a suggestion made by 82-year-old leading panda expert Hu Jinchu, who argued that the panda keepers should dress up like leopards and roar in order to encourage survival instinct. We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for photos. (Videos after the jump!)
This CCTV clip catches all the action: