Over the past few years, many people have questioned the survival of giant pandas, thinking they have reached their evolutionary end-of-the-line or feeling that other species are cheated in the name of giant pandas because great amounts of conservation funding and scientific investment go toward this charismatic species.
In partnership with Penguin Books, we hope to help people think more clearly about the state of giant pandas, and our precious Earth, our only life source. You see, giant pandas are just one of the countless victims of a large brained but most often ignorant and misguided species – humans.
Our journey to bring this book to you began in 2006 when an amazing young woman, Jo Lusby, came for a visit. At the request of one of our giant panda colleagues, I was asked to host her at the Chengdu Panda Base and teach her as much as I could about panda conservation, one of my favorite tasks. Jo not only is an avid learner, she is the Managing Director of Penguin China. I had been given another task earlier in the year, one that was daunting to me — to figure out how to gain the trust and interest of an international publisher so that we could better explain giant pandas to the world. I was anxious to ask Jo how to go about this and luckily she humored me (though she was on holiday) and discussed some strategies I should try. But the more we talked the more she thought maybe she should get involved. The first book we worked to develop together was published in 2007 and is a children’s book called “Watch Me Grow Panda” and features the early life and development of Jing Jing, one of the pandas who lives at our Panda Base. With tremendous success of this book, Jo was ready to propose a larger book, one for all audiences. By then she had learned of all the dangerous (and some ridiculous) misconceptions about giant pandas and how critically endangered they are, and how all of Earth’s natural systems were in steep decline. She wanted a book that explained it all.
Our ardent work began, there were many manuscript drafts and thousands of photographs to consider and organize, and even more to capture for the purpose of explaining these gravely threatened bears to the world. This book is our attempt to share giant pandas, their predicament, and ours to the world.
Our dream was to be able to share giant pandas with the world and egress our plea to humanity to help us save them. Of course there are many wonderful books about giant pandas, but within the general public there are so many misunderstandings such as assuming they are lazy and not proficient breeders. Many people also have only read of the efforts to protect them through captive breeding where many amazing success stories have emerged. However, most people are unaware that they are still losing ground in the wild. They are sadly not alone in their endangered status as they are only one of the many victims of the global mass extinction event occurring on Earth today, due to the behavior of humans. In this book readers can learn about the natural history of giant pandas, the years of conservation efforts invested in them, personally meet many giant pandas, and learn about the global actions needed from all people of every nation for us to be able to save them from impending extinction.
Giant Pandas: Born Survivors
By Sarah M Bexell @en & Zhang Zhihe @en
Publisher: Penguin China
A Chinese national treasure and a conservation icon the world over, giant pandas are arguably the most misunderstood animals on the planet. At once threatened by human encroachment and safeguarded by human ingenuity, these diffident creatures experience the best and worst of mankind. As the custodians of our planet, do we have what it takes to step up and save these magnificent animals and others like them from extinction?
Taking you to the heart of the battle for their survival, this breathtaking photographic book explores giant panda behavior, addresses conservation issues that our planet faces and shatters the myths surrounding these fascinating creatures.