Review of 1869 – Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Panda Discovery


In 1869, Volume V of the New Archives of the Museum of Natural History in Paris published an appraisal report stating that the “black and white bear” discovered by French naturalist Armand David in Baoxing County, Sichuan Province, was a new species named Ailuropoda melanoleuca. Since then, the giant pandas have entered the human world from its habitats in high mountains and dense forests.
150 years for the giant panda, living for 8 million years, is barely even a blink, yet being of great significance for human beings to know and understand giant pandas. The exhibition, according to its timeline, will have four exhibition halls including Accompanying You Home, Ex-situ Conservation, Panda and the World and In 1869.
    Accompanying You Home Hall – Releasing Giant Pandas into the Forest
This exhibition hall shows a period of time from the present to the future, primarily about the Giant Panda National Park and the release information related to giant pandas in the wild.
If giant pandas need to continue to be bred in captivity, the significance of this population for the conservation of the entire species must be clear: the fundamental goal of breeding giant pandas in captivity is to establish a self-sustaining captive population, while the ultimate goal is to release captive individuals into the wild to rebuild or rejuvenate the wild population. At present, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding has established the world’s largest artificial captive population that boasts 195 giant pandas, a self-sustaining population of captive giants, which provides a guarantee for the ongoing release of giant pandas into the wild.
    Ex-situ Conservation Hall – from participating in the rescue of giant pandas to establishing world-class scientific research and protection institutions for rare and endangered animals
This exhibition hall presents a period of time in the 1980s, primarily about the upsurge in rescuing giant pandas and the establishment of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
From 1974 to 1976, it was the age of hunger for the giant panda spcies. An investigation team sent by the Ministry of Forestry found 138 giant panda bodies in Gansu and Sichuan provinces. Just before people had time to make an in-depth analysis of the real cause of these deaths, in the summer of 1983, more than 500 pandas in Minshan and Qionglai Mountains again faced food shortages. The spread of the news set off an upsurge of “rescue the giant panda” events around the world. At that time, of 63 giant pandas sent to Chengdu for rescue, 6 could not return to their homeland because of the poor conditions their original habitats were suffering from, thus the strategic conception for ex-situ conservation began to take shape. In 1987, in the upsurge of saving giant pandas, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding was established as the times required.
Over more than 3 decades of development, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding has become a world-class professional organization integrating ex-situ conservation of giant pandas, scientific research and breeding, international cooperation and exchange, research on wild release, education of giant panda conservation, ecotourism, and panda culture construction.
    Panda and the World Hall – In the early 20th Century, giant pandas began to travel around the world
This exhibition hall presents a period of time from the late 19th century to the 1970s.
Giant pandas have played a crucial role in China’s diplomatic history. From 1957 to 1982, China sent 24 giant pandas to 9 countries. Giant pandas, with the burden of their missions on their shoulders, left their hometown, travelled far away across the sea, and opened the door to the world for China. Nowadays, China usually holds international exchanges and cooperates with countries around the world by lending giant pandas. At present, more than 60 giant pandas live in 17 countries. In 1994, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and Adventure World in Shirahama, Wakayama, Japan launched the first international cooperative breeding program for giant pandas, achieving the best results of any international cooperative for breeding giant pandas currently with the largest overseas captive population of 15 giant panda cubs out of 10 births.
In 1961, on the occasion of the founding of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Sir Peter Scott, founder of the WWF, designed the emblem of the Fund based on the photograph of the giant panda Chi Chi, which formally established the status of giant panda as a flagship species.
    In 1869 Hall – A new species was discovered – Black and White Bear.
This exhibition hall presents a period of time from 1862 to 1874, which how human science began to recognize giant pandas.
In 1869, Armand David, a French Naturalist, commissioned by the Museum of Natural History in Paris, went to Baoxing County, Sichuan Province, where he collected specimens and worked part-time as the fourth priest of Dengchigou Church.
In the spring of 1869, David went deep into the mountains for collecting plant specimens, and while passing through a farmer’s house to ask for some water, he, unexpectedly, found black and white animal fur that he had never seen before. In his diary, he said, “The black and white bear, according to my hunter, has a large body, short ears, and a shorter tail, and I have never seen it in European specimens. It’s undoubtedly the most beautiful and lovely species I know, and probably a new species in science!” David then transported a giant panda specimen to the Museum of Natural History in Paris, where the giant panda was officially identified as a new species by curator Miller Edwards. Since then, giant pandas living in the mountain forests have entered the gaze of human civilization.


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