Plight of the Panda

Mysterious, endangered, and cuddly are a few of the monikers typically associated with China's best-known symbol. Given China's recent economic reforms, pandas face a mixed future. On the one hand, economic growth and overpopulation along with polluted air and water sources, are increasingly affecting their habitat. On the other hand, more state and international resources are pouring into special research institutes like Sichuan's Panda Breeding Research Base, which has recently had success in regard to breeding. In addition, China’s pandas are now used as political capital through what’s being called "Panda Diplomacy" as certain foreign countries preferential to Beijing are being rewarded with a giant panda. What will be the ultimate fate of these stoic creatures? It's hard to say. One thing is certain though: those who visit ecological panda preserves are part of the solution.

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