By Erik Crouch
On Friday the Hongkou National Natural Reserve began preparing two of its giant pandas for release into the wild. Located in Sichuan Province, the reserve has a “wildlife training” program that it plans to begin with Qizhen and her daughter Zhenzhen in January. Releasing pandas into the wilderness is seen as a valuable way to maintain genetic diversity, pandas reproducing in captivity can lead to high rates of inbreeding.
Normally that would be enough Panda-news for one week, but the Hongkou Reserve’s announcement coincides with this year’s “Pambassador” awards in Chengdu. The Global Pambassador Program finds worthy panda-enthusiasts from around the world to speak out on behalf of the animals. This year’s winners are Serge Pouille (France), Chen Yinrong (China), and Melissa Katz (USA). The three will travel to the US, Japan, Thailand, the UK, and Australia to advocate for improved panda/human relations.
As China Daily reports, “All of the three Pambassadors are die-hard panda fans.”
Images via Chengdu Pambassadors