After completing a rigorous training program, the giant panda Zhang Xiang was released into the wild on November 6, 2013. It is the first female panda that has been released into the wild. Zhang Xiang began her new life at the Liziping Nature Reserve in Sichuan province. Prior to Zhang Xiang’s release, another giant panda named Tao Tao was also released into the same reserve. Both Zhang Xiang and Tao Tao were selected for the second iteration of the reintroduction field-training program at the Wolong Nature Reserve. Before being released back into the wild, each panda must be carefully assessed and prepared for life out of captivity .

Zhang Xiang, female, studbook No.826, was bore on August 20, 2011 to parents Zhang Ka and Bai Yang. Both parents were wild giant pandas from the Qionglai Mountains. Zhang Xiang were trained in the Hetaoping reintroduction program following a similar training model used to prepare Tao Tao.That particular model was put into practice on October 24, 2011. She learned survival skills from her mother in a semi-wild environment to maximize the likelihood of reintroduction success. Phases one and two of training required Zhang Xiang to learn how to feed on her own, find water, look for shelte4 remain vigilant to the environment, and protect herself from natural enemies. Researchers followed her movements with the help of a GPS collar around her neck, infrared monitoring cameras] and quadrant surveys.

On October 23, the State Forestry Administration held a meeting to determine Zhang Xiang’s eligibility for release. Panda experts agreed that she had effectively learned to identify and avoid predators, was self-sufficient and independent to And food, water and shelter. Her training results indicated that she had all necessary skills for reintroduction and the researchers feel she would adapt quickly to a wild environment. One reason for releasing Zhang Xiang into Liziping was due to the success the nature reserve had in monitoring Tao Tao’s whereabouts.

Tao Tao and Zhang Xiang’s releases into the wild began a new chapter in giant panda conservation. Not only have captive giant panda populations expanded in recent years, but the rejuvenation of wild populations through a reintroduction program comes as welcome news for the renowned black and white animal of China.