Humans in Panda Costumes Help Cubs Acclimate
Chinese researchers are going to extreme lengths to help Panda Bear cubs be ready for existence in the wild by climbing into Panda costumes to help the young animals get acclimated.
It is part of a new program being introduced at the Wolong Nature Reserve in China to help introduce pandas born in captivity back into the wild and increase the number of this endangered species living in natural surroundings.
In order to prevent the young cubs from being too attached to their human caretakers, the researchers always dress up in a panda costume while caring for the cubs.
Deputy director of the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Centre Li Desheng says the keepers are going to great lengths to prepare the pandas for release.
“We’ve tried our best to reduce human interference during Taotao’s re-wilding training session. [His] feeders have to wear the specially-made panda suits when feeding him, so that Taotao won’t know the ones who feed him are human beings, not giant pandas like himself. He can be very easily frightened on seeing human faces.”
So far, four Panda cubs born to mothers living in a specially protected area of the wild reserve have been participating in the program.
Every time the researchers handle the cubs to move them to another place, offer them any food or perform a medical check-up, they must wear the full Panda costume.