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S39 Ep1

Pandas: Born to be Wild

Premiere: 10/21/2020 | 00:00:35 |

Unlock the mysteries of wild pandas whose counterparts in captivity are known for their gentle image. Journey through the steep Qinling Mountains with filmmakers, scientists and rangers to witness pandas’ startling courtship and aggressive behaviors.

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About the Episode

The Giant Panda may be one of the most recognizable endangered species on our planet, but the daily lives of wild pandas remain a mystery, until now. Filming over three years, two Chinese cinematographers trek through the steep forested trails of the Qinling Mountains to catch a glimpse of wild pandas. With the help of scientists and rangers on this journey, they capture startling new wild panda behavior on screen. Unlike the playful image of captive pandas, wild pandas are solitary and territorial. The film crew also follows the training of a young panda born in captivity learning to be a panda in the wild.

Buzzworthy Moments:

  • A young cub in the Wolong Panda Center, born to his mother through artificial insemination, will spend three years in a large enclosure in the reserve, separate from all other pandas and humans. He is being trained to be introduced into the wild when he reaches three years old. Under the guidance of his mother, he learns crucial skills such as climbing trees and exploration, although there is still a risk that he will become too attached to his mother.
  • The mating and courtship rituals of wild Giant Pandas have never been filmed before. The filmmakers trek alongside park rangers in the Qinling Mountains to track down a male during the breeding season and eventually stumble on an exceedingly rare sight – a fertile female being fought over by two males. To succeed in courting the female, the males must win against their rival as well as a tussle with the female herself. This behavior sheds light on why breeding captive pandas is so difficult – the roaring, scent–marking and fighting are most likely what triggers her ovulation – conditions very difficult to replicate out of the wild.
  • Since they are raising the young cub to never meet humans, the caretakers at the Wolong Panda Center come up with an unusual solution to perform health checkups on the cub. The workers dress up in panda costumes and even mask their scent with panda urine. The cub, with its poor eyesight, is left none the wiser.
  • The majority of the panda cubs living in the Wolong Panda Center are extremely playful and social with their fellow pandas and caretakers. This is different behavior from pandas in the wild, who are mostly solitary creatures. It is still a mystery why captive pandas are more social than wild pandas.

Noteworthy Facts:

  • There are only around 2,000 Giant Pandas left in the world today. Although they are members of the bear family, pandas do not hibernate and therefore must keep feeding even throughout the winter months.
  • Bamboo is a panda’s main food source; however, it does not provide much nutrition. In order to maintain their energy, they must eat bamboo up to 14 hours each day.
  • The milk in a Giant Panda mother contains more antibodies than any other animal because cubs are born incredibly vulnerable and underdeveloped. Females can only have 3-4 young in their lifetime, the lowest birth rate of any mammal.
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PRODUCED AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY
JACKY POON
YUANQI WU

NARRATED BY
CHRIS MORGAN

WRITTEN AND EDITED BY
MARK FLETCHER

ADDITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY
LIANG HUANG

ORIGINAL SCORE COMPOSED BY
BARNABY TAYLOR

SOUND DESIGN
TIM OWENS
KATE HOPKINS
HANNAH GREGORY

SOUND MIXERS
PETER DAVIES
STEFAN K. FIEDLER

GRAPHIC DESIGN
JAN GOLUNSKI

ONLINE EDITORS AND COLORISTS
DAN MORAN
DAN THOMAS
TIM CHEETHAM
PATSY HAYDEN

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE PROVIDED BY
SHANGHAI SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY MUSEUM
JACKY POON

SPECIAL THANKS
CHINA RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION CENTER FOR THE GIANT PANDA
CHANGQING NATIONAL NATURE RESERVE
WOLONG NATIONAL NATURE RESERVE
SHAANXI NATURE MUSEUM
SHANGHAI SCIENCE EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION

PRODUCTION EXECUTIVES
HUANCHEN ZUO
XIAOMING WANG
ZHIZHONG ZHANG

LINE PRODUCERS
WENZHONG WU
WEI LI

FIELD TEAM
QUANBEI LIU
DINGQIAN XIANG

SCIENTIFIC TEAM
HEMIN ZHANG
SHENGGUO FANG
ZHONG LI
DAIFU WU
DESHENG LI
XIAOPING ZHOU
RONGPING WEI
GUIQUAN ZHANG
LUN WANG
MINGCHUN ZHANG

PRODUCTION TEAM
FAN YANG
XIAOQING YE
PING ZHANG
WEIYUN ZHANG
ZHIHONG MI
RUILING SONG
XIAONING PAN

PRODUCTION MANAGER
TRAUDE BOTHA

LINE PRODUCER
ALDO METZELAAR

UNIT MANAGER
DINAH CZEZIK-MÜLLER

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS
ANDREA GASTGEB
SABINE HOLZER

FOR NATURE

SERIES EDITOR
JANET HESS

SENIOR PRODUCER
LAURA METZGER LYNCH

COORDINATING PRODUCER
JAYNE YOON JUNG JUN

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
JAMES F. BURKE

LEGAL COUNSEL
BLANCHE ROBERTSON

DIGITAL LEAD
DANIELLE STEINBERG

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER – DIGITAL
AMANDA SCHMIDT

SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR
KAREN HO

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT
CHELSEY SAATKAMP

BUDGET CONTROLLER
JAYNE LISI

ONLINE EDITOR
CHRIS GUIDO

RE-RECORDING MIXER
ED CAMPBELL

ORIGINAL EPISODE PRODUCTION FUNDING PROVIDED BY
THE HITE FOUNDATION
DORIS R. AND ROBERT J. THOMAS
THE SUN HILL FAMILY FOUNDATION

ORIGINAL SERIES PRODUCTION FUNDING PROVIDED IN PART BY
CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING
ARNHOLD FOUNDATION
SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III
THE FAIRWEATHER FOUNDATION
KATE W. CASSIDY FOUNDATION
KATHY CHIAO AND KEN HAO
FILOMEN M. D’AGOSTINO FOUNDATION
CHARLES ROSENBLUM
SANDRA ATLAS BASS
LILLIAN GOLDMAN CHARITABLE TRUST

SERIES PRODUCER
BILL MURPHY

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
FRED KAUFMAN

A CO-PRODUCTION OF TERRA MATER FACTUAL STUDIOS AND MARK FLETCHER PRODUCTIONS IN ASSOCIATION WITH THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC FOR WNET

THIS PROGRAM WAS PRODUCED BY THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC, WHICH IS SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR ITS CONTENT.

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