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Panda Updates – Wednesday, September 18

For our next few panda updates, we thought it would be interesting to share some common misconceptions of giant pandas. Despite the fact that they are widely known animals, there is still a lot of research to be done on giant pandas, and some “stereotypes” have given pandas a reputation. As members of the Panda Care Team at Zoo Atlanta, we’d like to share some of the things we know and have learned from spending time with these animals every day. One of the things we’d like to talk about is the common misunderstanding that giant pandas are incapable of breeding and surviving as a species without human intervention.

To answer this one, you really must think about how long giant pandas have been around, and when they started to get into trouble. Giant pandas made their lifestyles work for a very long time before their biggest threat came about: human-driven habitat fragmentation. Their low numbers in the wild have less to do with their desire to breed and more to do with high-density human populations in the remaining bamboo forests. The primary goal of having giant pandas in human care is to raise awareness and increase genetic diversity. For that reason, many zoos often house a genetically matched female and male pair. It is unrealistic for us to have an unlimited number of male companions for a female to choose from, so sometimes that is the cause of unsuccessful breeding years in the zoos that house pandas. That aside, the desire to breed is just as present in giant pandas as it is other mammals.

(Photo by Amanda D.) 

Danica W.
Keeper II, Mammals

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