Earthwatch researcher Professor Zhang Hemin is researching the reintroduction of captive giant pandas to the wild and the control of panda epidemic diseases.
Why study the giant panda?
Says Professor Zhang: “The giant panda, which is indigenous to China and one of our most beloved national treasures, is a highly endangered animal. According to the latest national survey in 2004, there are approximately 1,590 wild giant pandas left in the world.”
A great moment in the field:
After a 2008 earthquake devastated the Wolong area, Professor Zhang told the television program China Talk that he was reminded of the tenacity of his center’s staff and their pandas: “Two thousand people were organized to save these national treasures - the giant pandas. Only one panda died and one was missing. We did our best. The whole process was filled with difficulties and it was very dangerous. But our staff not only saved their lives but also pacified them psychologically. [Now, the pandas] have returned to their state before the quake, both the physical and psychological aspects.”