Panda Ambassadors Visit Panda Cubs in Atlanta

Sep 08, 2013, 23:08 ET from Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

ATLANTA, Ga., Sept. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --Two of the three panda ambassadors representing China's Chengdu Panda Base, on Thursday visited the panda twins in Zoo Atlanta, bringing them with blessings from panda fans.

Melissa Katz from the United States, Jerome Pouille from France and Erica Chen Yinrong from China, stood out of 1.16 million applicants in the global recruiting campaign last year to claim the most cute job in the world. As panda ambassadors, or Pambassadors, they will advocate for the protection and conservation of pandas and all other endangered animal species. The three young people hit the road on Aug. 23, beginning a global tour of public education.

In one of the main stops, Katz and Pouille were thrilled on Thursday to pay a visit to the panda twins that were born 52 days ago in Zoo Atlanta, one of the country's oldest zoo.

The cubs, both male, are the first pair of panda twins that have been given birth to in the United States since 1987. They have never seen the public after birth. The zoo's animal care team and Chinese keepers from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding are currently working 24 hours a day to follow closely to the boys.

Katz and Pouille visited one of the cubs, now being called "B" before he gets his formal name, and took pictures of the future rock star to show to more people through their popular websites or blogs.

As a panda cub usually starts to develop the coat with black-and-white characteristic markings since 25 days after birth, cub B now looks totally different from his newly-born appearance, a pink and tiny body at the size and weight similar to a butter stick. The boy has grown to over 2000 grams now.

"The twins are doing fantastic and they are reaching all the milestones that they are supposed to reach on time," said Rebecca Snyder, the Curator of Mammals in the zoo.

In a following public education program in Panda Veranda of the zoo, the two Pambassadors were so eager to share the latest updates of the cubs.

Katz told participants that the zoo is planning for a global vote to name the cubs. According to Chinese tradition, as she explained, panda cubs will get their names on the 100th day after birth.

The two ambassadors also shared pictures of pandas they have taken during their intensive training in Chengdu last year. They also held a Q & A session, throwing out a series of interesting questions and usually unexpected answers to the audience.

"We are trying to deliver a lot of messages, but our main message is education and protecting pandas and other animals and respect them," said Katz.

Snyder, who has been working with pandas since 1997, welcomed the idea of having Pambassadors pushing for protection and conservation of pandas.

"It brings a lot of attention again to the species and the need for conservation. I think it is really important to have people speak up for giant pandas."

"As experts and keepers from Chengdu, the city of Pandas, support the panda breading work in the U.S., we also learn and benefit a great deal from these communications with U.S. colleagues," said Pu Anning, the Chief of Administrative Office of the Chengdu panda base.

The Pambassadors will continue their global tour, traveling to Washington D.C. later this week as well as Latin America and Europe in the coming weeks.

Pandas, also known as giant pandas, are native to China and one of the most endangered animal species in the world. About 1600 pandas live in the wild while more than 300 live in captivity.

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SOURCE Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding