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article imageSix panda lovers get chance to be caretakers after TV showdown

By Subir Ghosh     Sep 29, 2010 in Environment
Some people have all the luck. Six such individuals from the world over now have the opportunity to work as panda caretakers for one month, after an intense three-hour live showdown on China’s largest television network, CCTV.
Starting October 1, the six finalists will spend three weeks at the Chengdu Panda Base where they will learn about all aspects of giant panda care, breeding and conservation. One important stop will be a visit to a WWF conservation project at the Longxi-Hongkou Nature Reserve, to gain hands-on experience monitoring and patrolling for pandas in the wild, the organisation has announced.
The winners are being called Pambassadors, who will also blog about their experiences and share stories with people all over the world in the coming month at
“I would like to congratulate these enthusiastic and conservation-savvy young people who came all the way to Chengdu to participate in this exciting competition. The title Pambassador brings a great deal of responsibility with it, since each has a stake in the conservation of one of the worlds most threatened species,” said Jing Hui, communications director at WWF China.
Over the two month application period, 61,600 panda lovers from 52 countries applied for the six jobs. The global search for was narrowed from 60 candidates to 12 semi-finalists through online voting. Of the 12 semi-finalists, judges awarded the final jobs to Ali Shakorian from Sweden, Ashley Robertson from the United States, David Algranti from France, Chinese national Huang Xi, Wang Yuwen from Taiwan, and Yumiko Kajiwara from Japan.
“The key to panda conservation is to protect the wild panda population and its natural habitat. Through this campaign, we hope to raise public awareness on the threats and challenges that wild pandas face and encourage more people to join conservation efforts to protect pandas and their homes in the wild,” said Jing.
The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca, literally meaning "black and white cat-foot") is a bear native to central-western and south western China. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the giant panda's 99 percent diet is bamboo. It is an endangered species, threatened by continued habitat loss and by a very low birth rate, both in the wild and in captivity. It is one of the few in the world whose natural inhabitant status was able to gain a UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
Invited by the Chinese government to protect the giant panda about 30 years ago, WWF has played an important role in the establishment of China’s national panda conservation network. It now consists of 62 nature reserves, key corridors, and forest farms that cover 71 per cent of the giant panda population and 57 per cent of its habitat.
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