Panda Park Will Be Twice the Size of Yellowstone

ENVIRONMENT

A new national park will connect 67 separate reserves, in the hopes of increasing the world’s panda population through continuous habitat. (Fast Company)

Can you manage a successful panda park? Try our game to find out!

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit, including today’s simple MapMaker Interactive map.

Giant pandas are actually solitary animals. These juveniles are hanging out at a preserve in Sichuan, China.
Photograph by Ami Vitale, National Geographic

Compare the contemporary and historic range of giant pandas with today’s simple MapMaker Interactive map. The second bookmark really displays the fragmented nature of the current panda habitat.

Discussion Ideas

  • A new national park in China will unite 67 panda reserves (!) in a protected area spanning 27,133 square kilometers (10,476 square miles). Why is one big park a more effective conservation strategy than the dozens of smaller reserves?
    • healthier environment. Giant pandas are generally solitary animals, meaning they spend most of their lives alone. Pandas historically have large home ranges, so they can roam around without bumping into any other pandas.
    • breeding. A big protected area will both increase the potential for natural breeding and decrease the potential for inbreeding. “Pandas don’t breed often–each female is only fertile for a day or a day and a half each year, and might give birth once every two years–and as populations have become more fragmented, the chances of inbreeding have risen.”
    • food. Climate change is shifting where bamboo, pandas’ primary food source, can grow. “Over the next 80 years, more than a third of panda habitat may become too hot for bamboo to grow. The plans for the park are ‘setting up a network of places where they can eat,’ says Robert Tansey, a senior advisor on China for The Nature Conservancy.”

 

  • How will the park address the existing human settlements between and around the existing preserves?

 

  • How did U.S. parks inspire the design of the new panda reserve in China?
    • During a tour of California parks, Chinese officials took note of how facilities outside the park supported wildlife inside it. For instance:
      • At a wildlife refuge near Sacramento, they saw how different parcels of land were connected with pathways for wildlife, and how those outside the park also helped–rice farmers in the area, for example, now leave out vegetation longer than they would have otherwise to support migrating birds.”
      • [I]n the Santa Monica Mountains, for example, where mountain lions live next to Los Angeles neighborhoods, a bridge may be built to help the animals cross an eight-lane freeway.”

 

TEACHERS TOOLKIT

Fast Company: China’s New Panda Park Will Be The Size Of Massachusetts

Nat Geo: Giant Pandas: Into the Wild game

Nat Geo: Modern and Historic Panda Ranges map

2 responses to “Panda Park Will Be Twice the Size of Yellowstone

  1. I love pandas! They are so cute! I’m glad that reserves will be connected now! When I was in China with my husband, we have visited pandas an we loved them. I bought an amber pendant which has a shape of a panda. I really love it and it always reminds me of that trip.

    Like

  2. Pingback: 11 Things We Learned This Week | Nat Geo Education Blog·

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