Researchers wearing panda costumes carry a box containing a panda through the woods.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Bearing a heavy load

Researchers don panda disguises on May 3 to transport a bamboo box containing Tao Tao, a 21-month-old giant panda in the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan, China, to a larger living environment at a higher altitude along with his mother, Cao Cao.


Scientists wear the panda suits to limit human interaction with the endangered bears, which are being left to fend for themselves in the new habitat so they can learn crucial survival skills and live in the wild without assistance.


There have been 10 attempts to reintroduce pandas into the wild over the past 30 years, but only two individuals are thought to have been successful. In 2006, a panda named Xiang Xiang was released into the wild by scientists, but was found dead in 2007 after an apparent fall.


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Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.