China's pioneer in ecological and biological research of giant pandas, Professor Hu Jinchu, also known affectionately as the "panda papa," died of illness at 94 on Thursday night.
The revered zoologist passed away at a hospital in Nanchong City, southwest China's Sichuan Province, according to China West Normal University.
Hu is internationally recognized as the founder of the ecological and biological research of giant pandas and is hailed as the "first man to study giant pandas in China."
He was appointed by the forestry department of Sichuan as the lead expert of a survey team for precious animal resources in 1974. Based on the field research and findings by Hu and his research team, Wolong National Nature Reserve was expanded from 20,000 hectares to 200,000 hectares. Several national nature reserves attained approval due to his efforts.
In 1978, Hu Jinchu led the establishment of the world's first field ecological observation station for giant pandas in Wolong National Nature Reserve.