Ami Vitale. Pandas Gone Wild.

Ami Vitale. Pandas Gone Wild.

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Right now, there are fewer than 2,000 Giant Pandas in the wild. Their breeding secrets have long resisted the efforts of zoos, and the mountainous bamboo forests they call home have been decimated by development and agriculture. But in a region where bad environmental news is common, the future of the Giant Panda might prove to be the exception. Over thirty years, researchers from the reserve have been working on breeding and releasing pandas, augmenting existing populations and protecting their habitat. And they’re finally having success. They are taking captive born pandas and releasing them back into the wild.   

The pandas sent to the wild will have no lines of school children waiting to meet them and as these bears trundle off into the wild, they take with them hope for their entire species. The slow and steady incline in the population of Giant Pandas are a testament to the perseverance and efforts of Chinese scientists and conservationists. China may be on its way to successfully saving its most famous ambassador and in the process put the wild back into an icon.

National Geographic Magazine photographer and filmmaker Ami Vitale has traveled to more than 100 countries, bearing witness not only to violence and conflict, but also to surreal beauty and the enduring power of the human spirit. Learn more about Ami Vitale. 

Follow Ami Vitale on Instagram @amivitale

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