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Ocean Park Hosts Hong Kong’s First Cross-Strait Giant Panda Conference

2013-09-26

The 3rd Cross-Strait Giant Panda Conservation and Education Conference kicked off in Hong Kong yesterday. Spearheaded by the State Forestry Administration of the People’s Republic of China, this bi-annual 3-day conference was  hosted by Ocean Park and held in the city for the first time, and co-organized with Beijing Zoo, China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda (“Wolong”), Taipei Zoo, the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau of Macau. 

Attended by around 100 management, curatorial, veterinarian representatives and experts from close to 40 giant panda conservation and education-related organizations and natural reserves this year, the conference promotes communication, facilitates technical exchanges, and garners support amongst the regions for giant panda conservation. Wolong representatives and partnering organizations also shared the latest updates on giant panda husbandry, conservation and education work, as well as provided progress reports on giant pandas under human care which underwent re-introduction training programs and were released back to the wild.

According to the State Forestry Administration, the husbandry practices of giant pandas under human care have reached a stable developmental phase, with a total of 341 giant panda under human care as of 2012. Subsequent to the release of the first giant panda under human care, Xiang Xiang, back to the wild in 2003, Wolong continues to improve its giant panda re-introduction training programme and release procedures. In 2012, Tao Tao, after undergoing the enhanced and systematic reintroduction training, was released back to the wild, and is currently doing well.

At the conference, Mr. Matthias Li, Deputy Chief Executive of Ocean Park, shared about the important roles giant pandas play as conservation ambassadors in Hong Kong. Since the arrival of the first pair of giant pandas, An An and Jia Jia, in May 1999, over 32 million guests have visited the giant pandas at Ocean Park, while over 190,000 students have participated in giant panda-related educational programmes at the Park. Meanwhile, Ocean Park and Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong (OPCFHK) have  invested over $40 million on giant panda conservation, education and scientific research initiatives, as well as post-earthquake rebuilding efforts in Sichuan.