Man, we’re dumb. I sometimes wonder why we do studies, because we never learn from them.
China is trying to replenish the giant panda population. So their plan is to breed a panda in captivity, give it 3 years of survival and defense training and then release it. They did, and released Xiang Xiang. Because his defensive training was pretty weak, some biting and howling, and they may have released him too close to another male panda’s territory, he was attacked by some wild pandas and died less than a year later. He was actually attacked twice during the year, and one of those times, people at the facility that released him came, rescued him, patched him up and rereleased him. They think that other males viewed him as a threat. I guess he wasn’t much of one.
Ok, I appreciate that the pandas’ numbers are low. But haven’t we learned already that things raised in captivity don’t have a chance in hell when you release them into the wild? I remember when I took the psych rat class, they told us that no matter what we may think, if we release the rat into the wild, it won’t survive. It won’t know how to fight, and it will wait for food. I know the panda at least was taught how to find food and how to make shelter, but I think humans teaching a panda something is different than being taught by another panda, I.E. its mother. It doesn’t understand that it’s going to be released some day. It just thinks that today’s session of how to build a den and how to howl at Chinese dude over there is just another game. It doesn’t know what it faces in the wild. It probably thinks that any other animal is its friend!
Now they’re saying they should have taught it how to fight. Gee, ya think? It’s going out into the *wild*! They think they should have released a female because she would have been more easily accepted into the wild panda population. They also think they shouldn’t have released him so close to another male’s territory. Did they do any research at all? I know I wouldn’t have had a clue about raising pandas, but I would have at least thought that releasing a friendly, practically tame panda with a collar next to a wild one might not be the greatest idea.
And is raising pandas in captivity and releasing them into the wild really smart anyway? What would be smarter, although I doubt it would work, would be to capture a couple of wild pandas, keep them until they breed and release them. Then the baby learns how to survive from its own mother. But sadly, the pandas would probably lose the will to live before they made babies. When will we learn that we can’t shape the future of another species? We just can’t. We can screw up the future of another species, but we can’t save it. It’s a sad fact, but I think it’s a fact.