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Number of panda reserves in China.

baby panda climbing a tree



International Fame

For more than 30 years, San Diego Zoo Global has cooperated with partners in China on a successful breeding program. These efforts benefit conservation in the wild by enabling us to study maternal care, cub development, mate choice, nutrition, and geriatric care.

Among the things we’ve learned is that there’s a small window of opportunity for successful breeding. Panda females are only fertile once a year, for 2-3 days! They have slow reproduction rates, having cubs once every 2 to 3 years, making it hard for the species to bounce back on its own.



Ron Swaisgood examining a hollow tree trunk used by a giant panda as a den in a Chinese forest. Mother panda Bay Yun and one of her cubs. Chinese countryside showing how close farms and roads are encroaching on panda territory.

Left: San Diego Zoo Global's Ron Swaisgood, Ph.D., examining a hollow tree trunk used by a wild giant panda as a den. Center: Bai Yun, who has helped panda conservationists study giant panda reproduction at the San Diego Zoo. Right: Most of the remaining wild panda population lives in the Minshan and Qinling mountains of China.


Times a day pandas poop! It helps scientists track them in the wild.

Disappearing Homes

We know a lot more about pandas, now. For instance, they need a lot of food—they only eat bamboo!—and are solitary except for the very rare occasion when they come together to breed. This means each bear needs an expansive territory to fulfill their giant appetite. But panda habitats have been destroyed by logging, deforestation, and human encroachment. Habitat fragmentation is also a problem: panda home ranges crisscrossed by logging roads and train tracks make it difficult for pandas to move around and access food sources safely.

Baby panda on tree branch chewing on stick

Together, we can
turn things around.

Science to the Rescue

San Diego Zoo Global helped pioneer artificial insemination for pandas, and this science has been a cornerstone of saving the species. In fact, we were the first to celebrate a successful panda birth through artificial insemination! We continue to work closely with our partners on breeding and reintroduction programs today, ensuring as much genetic diversity as possible. In addition, we support protected reserves in China where pandas can live safely and thrive in their natural environment.


Newborn pandas are the size of a stick of butter: 800 times smaller than their parents.

Baby panda being measured by two vets at the San Diego Zoo Panda Research Center

A baby panda being measured by vets at the San Diego Zoo Panda Research Center.



With help from friends like you, we’ve brought giant pandas back from the brink of extinction. They’ve been downgraded to “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. But the problems that pandas still face in the wild are obstacles to the continued success of this species. We need your help today!

Misty panda countryside