Impact Your World

Zoo Atlanta’s mission to help save pandas

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Wild giant pandas are on the endangered species list

Zoo Atlanta is one of four U.S. zoos with giant pandas via a partnership with China

There are more than 1,800 pandas in the wild today

Atlanta CNN  — 

Pandas are adorable sensations on the Internet.

But the wild giant panda population is endangered, and some zoos in the United States are helping to ensure pandas don’t become extinct.

According to Zoo Atlanta keeper Jen Webb, the wild giant panda is endangered because urbanization is destroying its habitat. As urban areas increased in parts of Asia, pandas had to travel farther away to find food. The population began to die off in large numbers.

The pandas at Zoo Atlanta draw large crowds every year. Visitors are fascinated, even if the animals’ daily routines are pretty simple.

“They wake up. They eat until they have a full belly,, and then they take a nap. And they wake up, and they eat some more. And then they take a nap. Wash. Rinse. Repeat,” Webb said.

The pandas aren’t just at the zoo for people to fawn over. There’s a greater purpose for the pandas being there.

“We (are) … able to participate in conservation, to have educational programming, to be able to provide world-class care for endangered species. The trifecta of bringing animals to people,” she said.

Zoo Atlanta is one of four zoos in the United States with pandas on loan from China through a partnership. China owns the pandas, and the zoos breed the pandas to help increase the population.

Zoo Atlanta has donated more than $10 million for giant panda conservation in China, which helps fund eight panda nature reserves in China and several projects. The projects include building stations, reforestation, equipment and research.

Programs such as the ones at Zoo Atlanta and the partnerships around the world with China have made a major impact, Webb said.

“The wild population has gone up. It’s over 1,800, and with the collaborative effort between all the zoos worldwide that (have) giant pandas as well as the Chinese colleagues, the captive population has grown, and we’ve maintained the genetic diversity of that population,” she said.

You can have an impact, too, by donating to Zoo Atlanta’s conservation program.