Sunday, December 5, 2010

Who Doesn't Like Baby Pandas?

I'm really not sure who reads this thing anymore, but I know at least one person (my mom) is unhappy with my lack of posting in the last week. Sorry friends, I promised I would pick up my posting, so here is a little science fix for you from the BBC.

Source: Telegraph UK
Giant Panda Breeding Breakthrough in China by Ella Davies, is a good short news piece about recent success breeding giant pandas in captivity. Pandas are endangered largely due to destruction of their habitat, but the complex factors that have to fall into place in order for them to reproduce haven't done their population any favors either. Researchers have struggled to induce pandas to breed in captivity, but a new understanding of panda lovin' (pregnancy and childcare as well) has led to increased rates of panda baby survival.

Most pandas give birth to two cubs at once, but abandon one and only care for the other. After observing this behavior in panda mothers, researchers started stepping in to put abandoned cubs in an incubator and swap the babies in and out of the mother's care so that she unwittingly cares for both of her cubs. This has led to a significant increase in panda baby survival, and who doesn't like a baby panda, they're just too damn cute.