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A decade of giant panda developments in China

2015-03-02 10:14 Xinhua Web Editor: Gu Liping

The government released the fourth decennial panda census on Saturday. Below are the major events and developments in panda conservation and breeding in China of the past decade.

-- March 2004, the establishment of four giant panda breeding bases in four Chinese cities was agreed upon at a national working conference on giant panda protection.

-- June 2004, the third full panda census counted over 1,590 pandas in the wild and 161 in captivity. It was the first time the government had released detailed on the giant panda population in 15 years.

-- April 2005, Chinese scientists published a paper in "Journal of Mammalogy", announcing a new subspecies of giant panda from the Qinling Mountain range in Shaanxi Province.

-- May 2005, Chen Yunlin, director of the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee at the time, announced the mainland was sending a pair of pandas (later named Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, meaning reunion in Chinese) to Taiwan.

-- August 2005, China released a panda back in to the wild and continued to study it with the aid of a radio-location system, paving the way for the release of more giant pandas in the coming years.

-- November 2005, the giant panda was named as a mascot for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

-- April 2006, Xiang Xiang became the first captive giant panda to receive wilderness training in Wolong Nature Reserve in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

-- February 2007, Xiang Xiang was found dead in the wild. Researchers believe Xiang Xiang fell when competing for territory and food against wild pandas.

-- April 2007, Ying Ying and Le Le, a pair of giant pandas, were given to Hong Kong as a gift to mark the 10th anniversary of the city's return to China.

-- May 12, 2008, an 8.0 magnitude earthquake wreaked habitat in Sichuan and damaged the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP). Over a hundred captive pandas were transferred elsewhere.

-- Dec. 23, 2008, Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan arrive in Taiwan.

-- 2009, the CCRCGP, the world's largest giant panda breeding organization, began measures on population control, genetic variation and sustainable development.

-- Feb. 6, 2010, two American-born pandas, Tai Shan and Mei Lan, arrived in their ancestral home of Sichuan after a 15 hour flight. The birth of the two pandas was the result of joint efforts by Chinese and U.S. breeding experts.

-- July, 2010, the CCRCGP restarted its wilderness training with four expectant female pandas in Wolong National Nature Reserve.

-- By the end of 2010, the number of pandas bred in captivity was 312, due to breeding and rearing breakthroughs. According to a genetics formula, there needs to be more that 300 giant pandas to ensure over 95 percent genetic diversity and to avoid them dying out.

-- By the end of October, 2011, four pairs of mothers and cubs participated in wilderness training in Wolong, increasing the number of candidates for release.

-- Dec. 4, 2011, another two pandas named Tian Tian and Yang Guang arrived in Edinburgh Zoo on a 10-year exchange program. Seventeen years had passed since a giant panda first appeared in a British zoo, when London borrowed Ming Ming from China to mate with Bao Bao from Berlin. Ming Ming was sent back to China in 1994 after unsuccessful mating efforts.

-- October 2012, Tao Tao, the first panda to be born in a wilderness training base, was successfully released into Liziping Nature Reserve in Sichuan. Tao Tao, a male, was born on Aug. 3, 2010. He became China's second captive-bred giant panda that was released.

-- July 6, 2013, Yuan Yuan gave birth to Yuan Zai in Taipei, the first panda cub born in Taiwan.

-- Nov. 6, 2013, two year old Zhang Xiang became the world's first artificially-bred female giant panda and China's third captive giant panda to be released.

-- Feb. 22, 2014, Xing Hui and Hao Hao, a pair of giant pandas, were sent from China's Sichuan Province to their new home in Pairi Daizi Zoo in Belgium. They will remain there for 15 years.

-- July 29, 2014, Ju Xiao, a female giant panda from Wolong gave birth to a rare set of triplets in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province. The three cubs were the world's only recorded surviving giant panda triplets.

-- Oct. 14, 2014, Xue Xue, a 2-year-old female became the fourth captive-bred giant panda to be released into the wild in China.

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