ResearchAchievements in Breeding

The Chengdu Panda Base has been focused on combining scientific research with production since its establishment and developed itself into the world's largest artificial breeding population of captive giant pandas at present, and the rearing and breeding center of ex situ conservation of the giant panda.

History

Due to flowering and withering of part of bashania fangiana in giant panda habitats of the Qionglai Mountains and Minshan Mountains in 1970s and 1980s, 250 giant pandas starved to death from 1974 and 1983. Organized by the Forestry Department of Sichuan Province, professionals of the Chengdu Panda Base (former Chengdu Zoo) actively worked on the frontline and devoted themselves to rescue, medically teat and cure the emaciated and sick giant pandas, transfering them to the Chengdu Zoo for further treatment. Also these professionals formed a medical team from specialists that worked at the General Hospital of Chengdu Military Region of PLA. By doing so they were able to save the starving pandas from disaster-hit regions.
Additionally, they held the "Sichuan Provincial Medical Staff Learning Class for Saving Giant Panda" to train medical professionals how to travel and work in giant panda habitats, and popularize basic knowledge about the mass prevention and mass treatment, and increase public on conservation and support for the giant pandas. From 1974 until 1993, Chengdu saved in total 63 wild sick or starving giant pandas, 75% of which were healthily re-released after being treated. However, 6 rescued wild giant pandas were chosen to subject to artificial rearing in Chengdu Panda Base (former Futoushan Breeding Facility of Chengdu Zoo) due to their physical conditions and wild habitats, 3 of which are female "Mei Mei", "Guo Guo", "Su Su", the other of which are male "Qiang Qiang", "Chuan Chuan (Number 9)", "Number 6".

Population development
 

As one of the major institutions taking the lead in conducting ex-situ conservation of the giant panda; the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding has developed the world's largest artificial breeding population of captive giant pandas with 113 existing ones through efforts of over 20 years.

I. Philosophy

The Chengdu Panda Base always adheres to it’s established fundamental principles, primarily to, never capture wild population from field, and rescuing giant pandas through technological virtue. Focused on breeding and rearing of giant pandas, staff members actively conduct scientific research, and apply these results to increase population quantity and improve population quality. 

II. Results

Relying on scientific and technological advances and the application of major technological achievements, 116 births, 172 newborn giant pandas were generated from the 6 sick and starving giant pandas rescued in 1980s in the Chengdu Panda Base without any newly-added wild giant panda for 24 years, which created the world's largest artificial breeding population of captive giant pandas with 113 existing ones.

From 2006 until 2011 the Chengdu Panda Base made the best breeding achievements since its establishment. “Mei Mei” from 1980s, recognized as the super “Hero Mother”, has birthed 7 times, and had 11 newborn giant panda, 8 of which survive today. “Qing Qing” from 1990s and present “Ya Ya” made new breeding records via 9 births, and 13 newborn cubs , all of which are presently alive.

The Chengdu Panda Base has committed a the long-term program that will rescue and save any sick wild giant pandas, and additionally help other facility projects that also rescue, save, or in joint cooperation with other institutions or facilities, breed giant pandas. Results have seen several sick wild giant pandas saved, treated, and when in optimal health re-released back into their original habitats. These objectives have been fulfilled due to Chengdu Panda Base successfully collaborating alongside nature reserves like Wolong, Baoxing, Pingwu, Baishuijiang, Shaanxi,, and much more. Also with other units of our kind in Beijing, Chongqing, Kunming, Xi’an, Fuzhou, Lanzhou and st Shaanxi Louguantai Rescue and Breeding Research Center for Rare Wildlife through the provision of technical support and communications, exchange of sperm and individuals. These actions obtained outstanding achievements in the increased the numbers of giant pandas in China enlarged their wild populations, and played a leading role among units of giant panda ex situ conservation.

III. In addition

we also made brilliant achievements in conserving red pandas thanks to our major breakthroughs in artificial rearing and preventing parasites, canine distemper and other communicable diseases of the red pandas. Currently, Chengdu Panda Base is the world's largest artificial captive red panda population with 76 ones.

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Key technologies

 

I.Captive Breeding

1.Initiatively worked out the problem of "mating is difficult"

    ①.First successful artificial insemination using granule frozen sperms in 1980, which greatly improved number giant panda cubs by 11.2%;
    ②.Initial successful artificial insemination using frozen tubule sperms that gave birth to baby panda (pedigree number: 408) in 2000;
    ③.Successfully bred a captive natural-mating male giant panda named “Shi Shi” under the construction of new theory of behavioristics initiatively in 2004;
    ④.New discovery on the ovulation regularity of giant pandas solved the problem of timely mating of them. Found that the influence of anesthesia produced immense stress for the giant figured out the phenomenon that part of them would delay their ovulation initiatively, and solved the problem of timely mating through timely natural-mating and artificial insemination.

2.Initiatively worked out the problem of "rearing cub is difficult" 

    ①.Invented the technology to rear twin cubs in 1990, which increased the rate of survival of giant pandas from 30% to 70% and acquired the second class prize of national science and technology award.
    ②.Solved the problem of domestication milking of the giant panda in 2006, realized to collect colostrum through domestication and ensured twin cubs to acquire enough colostrum, which improved the rate of survival of baby pandas from 70% to 90% even 100% in recent years. At the same year, Chengdu Panda Base successfully kept a baby panda alive with 51 grams of newborn weight, which is lightest living newborn baby panda through breeding globally to date.

3.Worked out the problem of scientific raising of giant pandas

Established scientific raising methods, so solved the problem of “oestrus is difficult” on the basis of discovering the cause, namely, unsolved scientific raising problem; solved chronic diarrhea and malnutrition syndrome (commonly known as Jiangmao) of the giant panda; worked out the most serious diseases endangering health of captive giant pandas; and significantly decreased the captive giant pandas' frequency of abnormally excreting “mucous stool”.

II.Prevention and Treatment of Diseases

Staff at the Chengdu Panda Base solved many problems relating to preventing and controlling diseases that endanger the health of the giant pandas,, These include chronic diarrhea,  malnutrition syndrome, hemorrhagic enteritis, rotavirus infection, ascariasis, and canine distemper.

III.Genetic Management

1.Worked out the paternity test and genetic management of the giant panda population.

    Paternity test of the first generation—DNA fingerprints technique in 1999;
    Paternity test of the second generation—microsatellite technology for comprehensive population genetic management.

2.We established the gene resource bank, a “Noah's Ark”, used for the genetic diversity and population conservation of the giant panda.This corresponds to the world's largest giant panda sperm bank, the world's sole giant panda cell bank, the preliminary giant panda stem cell bank , and the giant panda tissue sample bank.

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