One of the world’s most iconic endangered species is no longer on the endangered species list!
However, don’t pop the champagne bottles quite yet, as the giant panda is still listed as a “vulnerable” species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. “Critically Endangered”, “Endangered” and “Threatened” are all classified as threatened species (IUCN 2016). So while their populations are increasing in the wild, there is still a lot of work to be done to keep the forward momentum going.
In the decade spanning from 2004 to 2014, the population of the giant panda in the wild increased from 1,596 to 1,864, a rise of 17 percent, according to the IUCN in its report.
The increase in the wild giant panda population shows that Chinese efforts to reforest the panda’s natural habitats and protect the areas where they still live are working, as well as the international cooperation between China and other nations, including the United States, in breeding the giant panda in captivity.
One of the more successful examples of that breeding program are the panda pair Lun Lun and Yang Yang, both of which are housed at Zoo Atlanta. Arriving in 1999, Lun Lun most recently gave birth to her sixth and seventh cubs on Sept. 3.
The two cubs are the first giant pandas to be born in the United States this year and are the panda pairs’ second set of twin cubs.