world

How pandas are making a comeback

By Ami Vitale and Kyle Almond

Published June 11, 2018

The giant panda, famously hard to breed, has frustrated scientists desperate to save the species from extinction. But now, the wild panda population is rising, thanks to Chinese conservationists.

Ami Vitale

Female pandas have a 24-to-72-hour window to get pregnant each year. Artificial insemination is common in facilities trying to save the animals.

Ami Vitale

When successful, about half of panda births produce twins, but in the wild, a mama panda would let the weaker one die. Conservationists have a system to keep cubs alive.

Ami Vitale

When pandas are born, each step of their development is carefully monitored. As they pass a series of tests, they can move out into the "real world."

Ami Vitale

Pandas aren't as soft as they look. Their fur is coarse, they smell like wet puppies and they squeak and make all kinds of different sounds.

Ami Vitale

But as cute as pandas are, observers learned not to forget they have teeth and claws and will use them to climb on anything and anyone when they're over six months old.

Ami Vitale

In the 1960s, only 30 percent of infant pandas born at breeding centers survived. Now it’s 90 percent, thanks to advances in knowledge and technology.

Ami Vitale

Habitat is important, too. China is creating reforestation projects with money they get from renting pandas to zoos. They’re linking corridors where pandas live to give them new places to migrate.

Ami Vitale