China Panda Researchers Find Panda Suits Suit Pandas
Visitors to the Hetaoping Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda in the Wolong National Nature Reserve can be forgiven if the pandas appear, well, rather un-panda-like. Walking casually on two legs, talking to each other in Chinese, removing their heads... wait, what?!
Yes indeed, cosplay (of a sort) has come to China and that's a good thing, especially if you're a young panda cub who dreams of living the wild life in the wild someday. According to Panda Center authorities, the black & white panda costumes help the cub resist acclimatization to staff members and other humans.
It's estimated only 2,500 or so Giant Pandas remain living in the wild, 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, due to their being only able to raise one offspring at a time.
The 4-month-old panda cub depicted getting all the warm & fuzzy attention is the first cub born at the Panda Center to be prepared for release into the wild using this unorthodox but effective technique. The use of disguises and/or puppets to assist parenting is not new: Whooping Cranes and California Condors have benefited from such “artificial” help in the past.
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. Call it the bear necessities! (via Telegraph Media Group UK)
*** UPDATED! Originally published on December 7th, 2010