PEOPLE IN PANDA SUITS SOAKED IN PANDA URINE. I grew up with my mother’s stories of the Brookfield Zoo. I posted on some of them here, including her story about trying to find a veterinarian for a panda on April Fools Day. This was in the late 1930’s when the first giant panda to arrive in the United States was at the Brookfield Zoo. A great deal about the care of pandas has been learned in the last 70 years, and this article by Jennifer S. Holland on the National Geographic website tells about how zookeepers in China are now preparing pandas born in a zoo to live in the wild with other pandas.
The Chinese zookeepers have learned a great deal about breeding pandas, to the point of developing an algorithm for choosing mates. They had 38 panda births in 2015. The next step is to learn how to return pandas to the wild. Those to be released have to be independent, wary, and capable of finding food unaided. The pandas to be returned are “kept relatively sheltered” from humans, and “keepers wear full-body panda costumes scented with panda urine so that young bears don’t get used to humans.” Five pandas have been trained and released since 2006. Three of them have survived.
Ami Vitale took some wonderful photographs of pandas and of people dressed as pandas which accompany the article.