Panda Makers

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Natural World, 2010-2011 Episode 7 of 14

Duration: 59 minutes

Wildlife documentary.

Giant Pandas were on the brink of extinction but now they are coming back, thanks to an extraordinary conservation project. The Chengdu Research Base in central China is at the heart of a project to breed 300 pandas, and then start introducing them back into the wild. It is the most ambitious and controversial conservation effort ever mounted.

Shot over two years, this film follows the pandas and keepers as, through visionary science and round-the-clock care, they edge closer to the magic number of 300.

  • BBC Wildlife Finder: Giant pandas

    BBC Wildlife Finder: Giant pandas

    Find out more about Giant pandas at BBC Wildlife Finder

    Giant pandas
  • Panda twins

    Panda twins

    Panda cubs are often born as twins however in the wild only one would usually survive. At Chengdu, twins are removed from their mother at birth and then introduced back one by one to the mother, swapping each cub so that both can receive enough of their mother's precious milk. This technique has helped the centre reach its extraordinary mark of 300 pandas.

    Watch Chengdu's cute baby pandas on YouTube
  • Serious bamboo eaters

    Serious bamboo eaters

    Despite having large canine teeth, Pandas only eat bamboo. They must eat vast quantities to get the energy they need to survive. At Chengdu, they employ a large workforce from surrounding villages to harvest bamboo and transport it to the centre. To add to this difficulty, the Pandas are highly selective about which bamboo shoots they eat leading to much of the harvested bamboo being rejected.

  • A helpless Panda cub in his incubator

    A helpless Panda cub in his incubator

    Helpless and blind, the baby pandas are dependent on their mothers for months after they are born. At Chengdu they are placed in incubators for observations and feeding whilst in rotation with their twin. The success of Chengdu is down to these revolutionary techniques and the diligence of the staff who monitor these precious cubs 24 hours a day.


David Attenborough
David Attenborough
Executive Producer
Tim Martin
Executive Producer
Tim Martin


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