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article imageChinese police dog may teach pandas to fight in the wild

By Chris V. Thangham     Dec 23, 2007 in Environment
Artificially bred pandas are unable to cope with predators in the wild and are getting killed, defeating the main purpose of increasing their population. Now, Chinese scientists are planning to use police dogs to teach pandas how to fight.
The Wolong giant panda breeding center plans to release four female pandas raised in captivity. Along with the pandas, the scientists are planning to send either a specially trained police dog, or other animals to protect them initially in the wild.
Chinese scientists hope the dogs might teach them how to ward off predators and the pandas may learn by observing their behavior. The pandas will be released into the jungle in the far western province of Sichuan.
One of the world’s first artificially bred pandas, named Xiang Xiang, was released last year into the wild but was found dead early this year. The panda survived less than a year in the jungle.
The scientists think the panda fell from a high place in the mountainous region after getting into a fight with other wild pandas or other animals in the jungle.
Sientists don’t want to see the same fate for other pandas for four females they plan to release soon. Since females are less prone to get in a fight, scientists want to send along a trained police dog with them to cope with the dangers.
As Reuters reports: Pandas chosen for release undergo years of training. Adult pandas need to spend up to 16 hours a day foraging and eating bamboo and almost all the remaining time resting or sleeping, making them vulnerable in harsh environments.There are only about 1,000 to 2,000 wild pandas in the jungle and China wants to increase their population by artificial insemination.
Initially, they had problems with keeping them alive after birth, and now they have problems making them simply survive in the jungle.
In captivity, pandas get food on time and exude almost no energy to get it, and there are no predators. This is one of the main reasons many advise against raising animals in captivity. In the case of the pandas, raising them in captivity is necessary to help sustain and grow their small population and there is no alternative.
Dogs may be the right solution for now, but they can’t be a permanent solution in my opinion.
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