Desperate times call for desperate measures. With less than 3,000 Giant Pandas left in the wild, researchers in China are doing everything they can, to ensure that the cuddly mammal does not disappear altogether - Including, posing as Pandas themselves!
Chinese conservationists at the Hetaoping Research and Conservation Center in Western China have taken to wearing fluffy Panda suits whenever they are tending to baby Pandas at the center.
The reason behind this is to ensure that the babies are surrounded by their own species and not humans. Scientists are hoping that by doing this, the animals will be able to adjust better, when they are eventually released and have to fend for themseleves in the wild.
Previous experience with Pandas reared by humans has not been good. In 2006 a five-year old male Xiang Xiang seemed to doing well when first released - However, a few months later he got into a fight, and was killed by a group of wild Pandas.
The researchers believe that it may be because the wild Pandas sensed something different about the human-reared Xiang Xiang. Whether dressing up as a Giant Panda will be effective is not proven, but the desperate scientists are willing to give it a try.
Giant Pandas numbers have rapidly declined over the last decade, largely due to the loss of their primary source of food - Bamboo, which can now only be found in a few forests thanks to de-forestation and land cleared out for farming. Added to this, is the fact that they have a hard time breeding and even when Panda's give birth, the mothers often get tired of their energetic cubs and abandon them. All these factors make it even more crucial for researchers to figure out how to raise these mammals and help them rehabilitate in the wild.
Sources: thesun.co.uk, dailymail.co.uk