6 Pandas Amble Toward Freedom In China Preserve

Published January 11, 2012 9:54AM (EST)

DUJIANGYAN, China (AP) — Six pandas bred in captivity are being released into an enclosed preserve in their native central China as part of an ambitious project to reintroduce more of the rare animals to the wild.

The pandas on Wednesday ambled into the 50-acre (20-hectare) area in the forested hills of Sichuan province where researchers hope they will learn to forage, mate and eventually thrive.

Success would potentially help save the endangered pandas who are stressed from poaching and the economic development that is destroying their natural habitat. An estimated 1,600 pandas live in the wild, while more than 300 are in captivity in China.

By Salon Staff

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