In the mountains of southwestern China’s Sichuan Province, a network of research centers, nature reserves, breeding facilities, and wildlife sanctuaries has been established to support native endangered species, especially the vulnerable giant panda. Researchers have been working for decades in the Wolong National Nature Reserve and Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding to boost the numbers of giant pandas in captivity, and to reintroduce some of them into the wild. Since 2006, the breeding program has released seven captive-bred pandas into the wild, two of which have died. At the moment, there are an estimated 1,864 giant pandas living in the wild in China, with a bit more than 225 living in captivity.

1. Researchers dressed in panda costumes place a panda cub into a basket before transferring it to a new living environment at the Hetaoping Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong National Nature Reserve, Sichuan Province, China, on February 20, 2011. The 6-month-old cub was being transferred to a bigger living environment with a higher altitude and a more complicated terrain, marking the beginning of the second phase of its training to reintroduce it to the wild. Researchers wear panda costumes to ensure that the cub's environment is devoid of human influence, according to local media.
China Daily / Reuters
2. A giant panda sits in a tree at the new base of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, Sichuan Province, on October 30, 2012. The first batch of 18 pandas returned to Wolong base on Tuesday, after being sent to Bifengxia base following the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008.
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3. A feeder dresses up to give a routine check to a giant panda at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda on February 3, 2011, in the Wolong Nature Reserve.
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4. A feeder dons a panda suit to give a routine check to a giant panda as a child plays with the head of the costume at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda on February 3, 2011.
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5. Feeders dressed as giant pandas prepare to give a physical examination to a giant panda in Wolong Nature Reserve on February 3, 2011.
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6. A feeder dressed as giant panda walks in a deserted enclosure in the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda on February 3, 2011.
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7. Feeders dressed as pandas carry giant panda cub Tao Tao in a training base at the Hetaoping China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda on February 20, 2011. Tao Tao was the first animal to be subjected to the program involving feeders who perform checkups dressed as pandas.
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8. Feeders give a physical exam to Tao Tao on February 3, 2011.
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9. Tao Tao is weighed at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda on February 3, 2011.
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10. A researcher dressed as panda places Tao Tao in a new enclosure at the Hetaoping China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda on February 20, 2011. The reintroduction program had entered the second phase during which Tao Tao and its mother Cao Cao were transferred to a larger wild enclosure for further training.
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11. Five-month-old giant panda Huamei II, one of the baby twins of Huamei, plays after a snowfall at the Wolong Giant Panda Research Center on January 18, 2005.
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12. Xiang Xiang, a 4-year-old male raised at the Wolong Giant Panda Research Center in Sichuan province, set to be released after almost three years of training, will be tracked by a Global Positioning System device, photographed at the Conservation Center in Wolong, China, on April 27, 2006. The panda research center was readying for its first release into the wild of a panda bred in captivity. His experience "will help scientists study how artificially raised pandas adapt to the wild," Zhang Hemin, the center's head, was quoted as saying. Xiang Xiang survived in the wild for less than a year—his body was discovered the following February, apparently having died from injuries "sustained in a fall after getting into a fight with wild-born males."
AP
13. A red panda gets some water from a flower after a rain shower at the Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu on June 11, 2008. Following the devastating 2008 Sichuan earthquake, which damaged the Research Center and killed one giant panda, the remaining pandas were temporarily moved to the Bifengxia Panda Base, while repairs were made.
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14. A panda keeper sits with a four-month-old cub at the Panda Research Base in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, on January 13, 2012.
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15. Giant pandas rest in a tree at a "panda kindergarten" inside Bifengxia giant panda base in Ya'an, Sichuan province, on April 26, 2013.
Reuters
16. Workers wearing panda masks use a wireless device to detect the location of Yingxue, a panda which has received survival training, at a protection base before reintroducing it to the wild, in Wolong, Sichuan province, China, on November 20, 2017.
Reuters
17. Researchers try to approach giant panda Tao Tao and its mother Cao Cao in Wolong National Nature Reserve on October 7, 2012.
China Daily / Reuters
18. A panda cub sticks out its tongue after drinking a bowl of milk at the Chengdu Research Base on April 17, 2008.
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19. Researchers dressed in panda costumes carry a cage as they transfer giant panda Tao Tao to a new living environment at the Hetaoping Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda on May 3, 2012.
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20. A little giant panda, three months old, plays in its pen at the Bifengxia base of China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center on December 11, 2008.
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21. A giant panda sits in a tree at a panda breeding center in Dujiangyan, Sichuan province, on January 11, 2012. The giant panda is among six young giant pandas which were bred in captivity and were released as a group of "pioneers" into an enclosed forest in Sichuan province. The release is the first step of a project aiming to help the endangered species to adapt to the wild environment and eventually survive in the wild, Xinhua News Agency reported.
China Daily / Reuters
22. A researcher dressed in a panda costume places a panda cub into a tub before its physical exam at the Hetaoping Research and Conservation Center on December 3, 2010.
Reuters
23. A red panda at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding on September 19, 2007. Founded in 1987, the base is dedicated to the conservation of native Chinese endangered species including the giant panda and red panda.
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24. Yuan Zi, one of two pandas to be loaned to France sits in a quarantine area of the Giant Panda Research Base in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on January 12, 2012.
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25. A newborn male panda cub is seen near the hand of its feeder at the Wolong Giant Panda Protection Center on August 23, 2006. Giant panda Xi Mei gave birth to a pair of twins 11 days earlier.
AP
26. Researchers dressed in panda costumes check the body temperature of a panda cub during its physical examination at the Hetaoping Research and Conservation Center on December 3, 2010.
Reuters
27. A giant panda rests on a tree at "panda kindergarten" inside Bifengxia giant panda base in Ya'an, Sichuan province, on April 26, 2013.
Reuters
28. A giant panda cub tumbles from the stage while 23 giant pandas born in 2016 were displayed at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China, on September 29, 2016.
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29. A three-year-old panda named Yuanda has his photo taken with a tourist, Remedios Rodriguez from Miami Beach, Florida, at the Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu on June 11, 2008.
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30. Giant panda cubs play in a tree at the Wolong Giant Panda Research Center on March 6, 2007.
China Daily / Reuters
31. A researcher carries giant panda cubs after a group photo was taken at the Bifengxia panda breeding center in Ya'an, Sichuan province, on November 19, 2010.
Reuters
32. Giant panda Sunshine peeks under a roof while playing in the snow at the Wolong Giant Panda Research Center on January 19, 2005.
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