The Bear Necessities of Protecting
Giant Panda

Dr. Bernadine Cruz  on Pet Life Radio

Ever wonder why the giant panda is black and white?  As legend goes, long ago when pandas lived n the mountains of Tibet, they were snow white.  The bears befriended a group of female shepherdesses who often played with their cubs while they tended their flocks.  When a leopard attempted to attack one of the cubs, the women sacrificed themselves, sparing the young bear.  The pandas mourned the shepherdesses by following the local custom of wearing black ashes on their arms.  In their grief, they cried and rubbed their eyes with ash coated paws, covered their ears to block the sound of their sorrow and hugged each other leaving them with the black and white pattern we see to this day.

Giant pandas are native to China and are considered a national symbol of peace and harmony.  Sadly, it is estimated that there may be only 1000 of these bears in the world.  When I recently toured China, I was fortunate to visit the Chendu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. My guest today is Dr. Sarah Bexell, the chief director of the Department of Conservation at the Chengdu Research Base. Her focus is keeping mankind from having to wear black ashes on their arms for these marvelous creatures.