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Tuesday, 12 June 2007
Pandas have been around for more than 3 million years. They're called "living fossils" because many of the animals they used to hang out with are now extinct. Now people are worried that the Giant Panda could also disappear but Sean's found someone who's determined to stop that from happening.
Climbing, swinging, scratching, fighting, yawning and not doing very much else but staying cute!
Yep, it's tough being a panda, but that's all in a day's work.
We're up in China, in a place called Chengdu. It's home to a large breeding program for the giant panda and is also where pandas are found in the wild.
Meet Jaye. She's not your average granny. She's a panda granny... and she's excited.
JAYE: We're heading to be great-grandparents this breeding season!
And with kids like this, who wouldn't be excited!
Jaye's adopted five giant pandas, and has dedicated her life to helping improve the life of pandas both in the zoo and in the wild.
Pandas are one of the most endangered animals on the planet - only 3000 are left ... that's because of things like habitat loss and a very low birthrate. They've also been hunted since ancient times for their fur.
Fewer than 200 live in protected sanctuaries like this.
At the Chengdu Panda Base, pandas are getting a fresh start. Here they're able to sleep and play free from threat.
Jaye's been at the Base for nine years. She's also teaching at a school nearby, and part of her job means regular panda trips for the kids.
"Everyone come and have a look at the pandas over here."
The enclosures here have been designed for the pandas to copy what life would be like for them in the wild.
Not only does it give experts a better idea of how the bears behave in their natural environment, but you also get to see them do some pretty cool stuff - like climbing trees and maybe... fighting with each other.
SEAN MAYNARD, REPORTER: Pandas also have a reputation as being some of the fussiest eaters on the planet. At dinnertime they pretty much just want one thing on their plate - bamboo. But they do occasionally get an appetite for other things.
"Ninety-nine percent of their diet is bamboo. What people don't realize is that in that one percent, they can actually eat up to 30 different species of plants and up to 10 different species of animals."
That can be things like honey, eggs and fish.
Breeding the pandas to increase their numbers is hard work. That's because panda's can only get pregnant over a few days every year!
What you may not have known is that baby pandas are a one-thousandth the size of their mums at birth... and when you're that size, it pays to to be heard!
".. it doesn't want to get crushed so it has a really loud voice and it goes like [impersonates baby].
And they're not the only ones making some serious noise! Male pandas are also pretty vocal.
JAYE: ... when they want to advertise that they're available, they climb up to to a tree in the forest and there's a roar, it's like a lion or a tiger that just resounds across the whole valley and it's kind of like [roars].
Eventually all the work in these sanctuaries will mean more Pandas will get a ticket home - back to the wild!
And it looks like they're paying off because numbers in the wild are starting to increase.
But even if you are thinking about adopting a panda, it's probably a good idea to get mum or dad's okay first!
We would like to acknowledge the Adelaide Botanic Gardens for their assistance in this footage.