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Scientists Dressed As Pandas Release Baby Pandas Into Wild (PHOTOS)

The Huffington Post     First Posted: 12/07/10 12:53 PM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 07:15 PM ET

Humans dressed as pandas. No, it's not Halloween and it's not Disneyland. It is China's Wolong Panda Reserve.

In this protected area of Sichuan forest, researchers are pulling out all the stops to try and reintroduce Giant Pandas into the wild. According to The Telegraph, workers are dressing in panda costumes to minimize human contact with real pandas returning from captivity. Four pregnant pandas were released earlier this year, and now conservationists are monitoring a four-month-old captive-bred cub 24 hours a day on CCTV.

The conservationists aren't acting overly cautious, given their past failures. In 2006, a male cub was released into the wild, and was subsequently found dead 10 months later, presumed murdered by truly wild pandas.

Unfortunately, the Giant Panda is seriously endangered. In the last 20 years, their natural habitat has shrunk by fifty percent, leaving less than a few thousand pandas alive in the wild.

Fortunately, conservationists are finally making headway, and now have over 300 captive pandas at the breeding center.

Check out photos of the researchers dressed as pandas releasing pandas into the wild below.

China Panda Release
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In this Friday, Dec. 3, 2010 photo, a four-month-old panda cub is picked up for a physical exam before it is released into the wild by a panda researcher who dressed up as a giant panda to prevent the panda cub seeing human shape at the Wolong Giant Panda Reserve Center in Wolong, in southwest China's Sichuan province. Panda researchers in southwestern China's Sichuan province are working to reintroduce giant pandas into the wild within 15 years, after successfully breeding them in captivity. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT
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