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Posted: 04/11/12 12:44 PM ET  |  Updated: 04/11/12 01:44 PM ET

Baby Panda Adoption At Center Of New World Wildlife Fund Program (PHOTOS)

You may not be able to adopt these little guys into your home, but thanks to a new program launched this month by the World Wildlife Fund, you can symbolically adopt a baby panda as part of an effort to save the endangered species' homes in the wild.

In collaboration with Greek musician Yanni, the World Wildlife Fund has created a program where people can "adopt" a baby panda for $50, with all donations going towards its many conservations efforts, the foundation said in a press release announcing the new program.

According to National Georgraphic, there are fewer than 1,000 Giant Pandas left in their natural habitat -- the remote bamboo-rich mountain ranges of southwest China -- and about 100 more living in zoos around the world.

The giant panda adoption program comes on the heels of two new studies conducted by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute aimed at helping conservationists understand threats to panda survival.

In a study published in the International Journal of Ecology in March, researchers looked at models of climate change around the world and used them to predict how the panda's natural habitat will look in the future. They estimated that by 2080, half of the area the animals currently call home will be unsuitable for panda habitation and they will need to adapt to other areas in order to sustain their population.

“Our research predicts that climate change will substantially decrease the amount of suitable giant panda habitat within the species’ current distribution, but also that we may see new areas becoming suitable for giant pandas,” lead researcher Melissa Songer said in a press release. “The question remains as to whether giant pandas will have the capacity and opportunity to shift to new areas should they become viable."

In a separate study, researchers sought to better understand the physiological changes pandas experience during their reproductive cycles. Pandas have a notoriously low birth rate in part females are only able to mate once a year, researchers explained.

But not many breeding studies have focused exclusively on male pandas. By refocusing on the mating habits and physiology of male pandas, the researchers discovered they are able to reproduce for six months or more every year.

"It is amazing that we did not previously understand the basic physiological changes occurring in the male giant panda during the breeding season and outside of it," the study's lead researcher Dr. Copper Aitken-Palmer explained in a press release. "With this information, we now have a complete picture of what is occurring physiologically for both males and females during reproduction.”

Check out a slideshow below of some of the giant panda babies available for adoption. The photos were taken at China's Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, courtesy of Matthew Levin, Whitney Padgett, Krystal Vinck:

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© Image Courtesy of Matthew Levin, Whitney Padgett, Krystal Vinck
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Filed by Jocelyn Richard  |