Some 17 giant pandas will play key roles in a Chinese TV drama about the life of legendary king Du Yu, who lived at the end of the Zhou Dynasty (1100 B.C.- 256 B.C.). Chen Chen, director of the TV series, “Jin Sha,” or “Gold Sand,” told Xinhua Monday the giant pandas’ key role in the series is saving the protagonist’s life. The television series revolves around Du Yu’s founding of the ancient Shu Kingdom and his metamorphosis into a cuckoo. “They will qualify, because giant pandas are really smart,” Chen said. “They will make good actors because they are cute and their expressions are rich.” Chen said his studio is still selecting giant pandas from Ya’an Bifeng Gorge Giant Panda Base in southwest China’s Sichuan Province to star in the series. Chen plans to start shooting the drama in Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan in April. Chen did not say when the drama will be released. news from english.cri.cn – The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca, literally meaning “cat-foot black-and-white”) is a bear native to central-western and south western China. It is easily recognized by its large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the Giant Panda’s diet is 99% bamboo. Other parts of its diet include honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, and bananas when available. The Giant Panda lives in a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan province, but also in the Shaanxi and Gansu
provinces. Due to farming, deforestation, and other development, the Giant Panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived. The Giant Panda is a conservation reliant endangered species. A 2007 report shows 239 Giant Pandas living in captivity inside China and another 27 outside the country. Wild population estimates vary; one estimate shows that there are about 1,590 individuals living in the wild, while a 2006 study via DNA analysis estimated that this figure could be as high as 2,000 to 3,000. Some reports also show that the number of Giant Pandas in the wild is on the rise.However, the IUCN does not believe there is enough certainty yet to reclassify the species from Endangered to Vulnerable. While the dragon has historically served as China’s national emblem, in recent decades the Giant Panda has also served as an emblem for the country. Its image appears on a large number of modern Chinese commemorative silver, gold, and platinum coins. Though the Giant Panda is often assumed to be docile, it has been known to attack humans, presumably out of irritation rather than predatory behavior. The Giant Panda has a black-and-white coat. Adults measure around 1.5 meters (4.9 ft) long and around 75 centimeters (2.5 ft) tall at the shoulder. Males are 10–20% larger than females. Males can weigh up to 150 kilograms (330 lb). Females are generally smaller than males, and can occasionally weigh up to 125 kg (275 pounds).The Giant Panda lives in mountainous regions, such as Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi. The Giant Panda has a body shape typical of bears. It has black fur on its ears, eye patches, muzzle, legs, arms and shoulders. The rest of the animal’s coat is white. Although scientists do not know why these unusual bears are black and white,
some speculate that the bold coloring provides effective camouflage into its shade-dappled snowy and rocky surroundings. The Giant Panda’s thick, wooly coat keeps it warm in the cool forests of its habitat. The Giant Panda has large molar teeth and strong jaw muscles for crushing tough bamboo. The Giant Panda’s paw has a “thumb” and five fingers; the “thumb” is actually a modified sesamoid bone, which helps the Giant Panda to hold bamboo while eating. Stephen Jay Gould used this example in his book of essays concerned with evolution and biology, The Panda’s Thumb. The Giant Panda has the second longest tail in the bear family, with one that is 10 to 15 centimeters (3.9 to 5.9 in) long. The longest belongs to the Sloth Bear. The Giant Panda can usually live to be 25–30 years old in captivity. The Giant Panda is an endangered species, threatened by continued habitat loss and by a very low birthrate, both in the wild and in captivity. The Giant Panda has been a target for poaching by locals since ancient times, and by foreigners since it was introduced to the West. Starting in the 1930s, foreigners were unable to poach Giant Pandas in China because of the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War, but pandas remained a source of soft furs for the locals. The population boom in China after 1949 created stress on the pandas’ habitat, and the subsequent famines led to the increased hunting of wildlife, including pandas. During the Cultural Revolution, all studies and conservation activities on the pandas were stopped. After the Chinese economic reform, demand for panda skins from Hong Kong and Japan led to illegal poaching for the black market, acts generally ignored by the local.
officials at the time. Close up of a baby seven-month old panda cub in the Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan, China. Though the Wolong National Nature Reserve was set up by the PRC government in 1958 to save the declining panda population, few advances in the conservation of pandas were made, due to inexperience and insufficient knowledge of ecology. Many believed that the best way to save the pandas was to cage them. As a result, pandas were caged at any sign of decline, and suffered from terrible conditions. Because of pollution and destruction of their natural habitat, along with segregation due to caging, reproduction of wild pandas was severely limited. In the 1990s, however, several laws (including gun control and the removal of resident humans from the reserves) helped the chances of survival for pandas. With these renewed efforts and improved conservation methods, wild pandas have started to increase in numbers in some areas, even though they still are classified as a rare species.In 2006, scientists reported that the number of pandas living in the wild may have been underestimated at about 1,000. Previous population surveys had used conventional methods to estimate the size of the wild panda population, but using a new method that analyzes DNA from panda droppings, scientists believe that the wild panda population may be as large as 3,000. Although the species is still endangered, it is thought that the conservation efforts are working. As of 2006, there were 40 panda reserves in China, compared to just 13 reserves two decades ago. The Giant Panda is among the world’s most adored and protected rare animals, and is one of the few in the world whose natural inhabitant status was able to gain a
UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. The Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries, located in the southwest Sichuan province and covering seven natural reserves, were inscribed onto the World Heritage List in 2009. Not all conservationists agree that the money spent on conserving pandas is money well spent. Chris Packham has argued that breeding pandas in captivity is “pointless” because “there is not enough habitat left to sustain them”, a point of view with which David Bellamy agrees, pointing out that even the WWF accepts that “there is no longer enough land for them to live on”.Packham argues that the money spent on pandas would be better spent elsewhere,and has said that he would “eat the last panda if I could have all the money we have spent on panda conservation put back on the table for me to do more sensible things with,though he has apologized for upsetting people who like pandas.He points out that “The panda is possibly one of the grossest wastes of conservation money in the last half century. The panda is, unfortunately, virtually unsavable. It lives in the most overpopulated country in the world, it feeds on plants when it ought to be eating partially meat, it transfers all sorts of nasty diseases among itself, it tastes nice and it’s got a coat that looks good on someone’s back”.
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