HONG KONG, Aug. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Organizers and panda ambassadors urged the public to step up efforts to protect pandas and other endangered species as the Global Panda Conservation Tour kicked off here Friday.
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, main organizer of the event, said in a statement that protecting pandas is also a process of conserving bio-diversity.
"We need to protect pandas not only because they are our national treasures, but also because their habitats are bio-diversity hotspots in China," it said. "Through protecting pandas and their habitats, other animals and plants in the area can also be preserved."
At a press conference held at the Ocean Park, Chen Yinrong, one of the three panda ambassadors, or "Pambassadors" selected from 1.16 million global applicants, said protecting pandas is not merely the duty of Pambassadors.
"I hope everyone can take part in the protection of pandas and other wildlife," she said.
The three Pambassadors, Chen from China, Jerome Pouille from France and Melissa Katz from the United States, were chosen in a recruiting campaign for ambassadors for the most iconic animal in China, which began in September 2012.
Ju Mengjun, director of Asia-Pacific Bureau of Xinhua News Agency, another organizer of the project, said this tour is also a tour of peace.
"We expect the tour, starting from its first stop in Hong Kong, can bring the voice of peace and a harmonious mindset from China to the world," he said.
The three Pambassadors will start their tour to cities around the world that currently house pandas, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Paris and Edinburgh.
The Pambassadors visited the four pandas living in the Ocean Park's Panda Village and talked to visitors about the importance of panda preservation.
"I think we should all take actions to protect pandas and their habitats, otherwise our future generations can only see these lovely creatures in televisions," said He Jianming, a tourist from China's eastern Jiangxi Province, after signing his name on a poster board for the event.
The four pandas living in Hong Kong - An An, Jia Jia, Ying Ying and Le Le - were given in pairs as gifts to the city, marking the second and 10th anniversary of its return to China.
Pandas, also known as giant pandas, are native to China and one of the most endangered animal species in the world. About 1,600 pandas live in the wild, mostly in the mountains of China's western Sichuan Province, while more than 300 live in captivity.
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SOURCE Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding