Visitors to the Hetaoping Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda in the Wolong National Nature Reserve located in China's southwestern province of Sichuan can be forgiven if the pandas appear, well, very un-panda-like. Walking on two legs, talking to each other in Chinese, removing their heads... wait, what?!
Yes indeed, cosplay has come to China and that's a good thing, especially if you're a young panda cub who has dreams of living the wild life in the wild someday. The black & white panda costumes help the cub resist becoming acclimated to humans, according to authorities at the Center.
It's estimated only 2,500 or so wild Giant Pandas remain, with habitat loss and the creatures' odd parenting techniques being the main threats to their continued existence. As an example of the latter, panda moms typically abandon a cub if twins are born, being only able to raise one offspring at a time.
The 4-month-old panda cub getting all the warm & fuzzy attention is the first cub born at the Hetaoping Research and Conservation Center to be prepared for release into the wild using this unorthodox technique. The use of disguises and/or puppets to assist parenting is not new: Whooping Cranes and California Condors have received such “artificial” help in the past. Full body costumes are another thing, however.
If efforts to remove human influence in the cub's environment are successful, we may soon see other cubs raised in this fashion... by humans wearing these fashions. (via MSN/Sankei News and Telegraph Media Group UK)