It's always nice to see a loved one return after a long absence. In recent days, China welcomed the beloved giant panda back from the brink of extinction, with the Chinese conservation agency announcing that the population of giant pandas in the wild now numbers approximately 1,800.
Cui Shuhong, director of the Department of Natural Ecological Protection of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, announced that decades of conservation work – such as the creation of panda reserves – have paid off, and that the status of the giant panda will be revised from "endangered" to "vulnerable." The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had already moved the panda off of its endangered list back in 2016, but Chinese officials disagreed at the time, and didn't want the move to lead to complacency in conservation efforts.
"Large areas of natural ecosystems have been systematically and completely protected, and wildlife habitats have been effectively improved," Cui said. And giant pandas aren't alone, Cui added, explaining that Asian elephants, Siberian tigers, Amur leopards, and crested ibis have also been brought back from dangerously low population levels.
Get to know the giant panda:
- Giant pandas come into the world pink, blind, and without fur; three weeks later, they turn their iconic black-and-white color.
- Pandas love bamboo shoots, and adults often spend about two-thirds of their day eating.
- Unlike other bears, giant pandas have eyes with vertical slits for pupils, just like cats.