In 2014, the Giant Panda took a star turn as it featured prominently in documentaries and animated features.  This however has not translated well into conservation for the endangered species.  Decades of heavy logging and construction in China has shrunk the Panda’s habitat and its number to a paltry 1,596 individuals worldwide.  But there is good news.

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In July of 2014, Chinese researchers reported that they had analyzed 240 Pandas from 4 separate Chinese breeding centres built to preserve the creatures.  They found that the bears had high levels of genetic diversity, and little evidence of in-breeding at all but one of the breeding centres.  This news bodes well for releasing the bears into the wild, or potentially cloning and artificial insemination to keep the population high.

“The captive population is genetically healthy”

The 240 bears actually represent a staggering 64 percent of all captive Giant Pandas.

Theres also a catch when it comes to releasing the animals: In an increasingly urbanized China, there is little room left for them to live in the wild.

There’s 99 more stories from 2014.  Check out the Best of 2014 series here.

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