Panda Tales highlights a time of excitement and learning — and not just for Zhen Zhen. A decade ago, the panda population in the wild was dwindling dangerously due to a low reproductive rate, a disappearing habitat and vanishing food sources. Thanks to knowledge gleaned partly through the zoo’s research, pandas at the Wolong Giant Panda Breeding Center and Reserve in China, one of the San Diego’s partners in conservation, now mate naturally and successfully nurture and raise their offspring. In the past 10 years, the population there has quadrupled.
Amid the story of Zhen Zhen’s progress, an unexpected storyline emerged nine months into filming. A massive earthquake in China on May 12 struck in the heart of panda country. At Wolong, many of the giant panda enclosures were destroyed or severely damaged. Panda Tales captures the zoo team’s concern for their colleagues in China, as well as plans to aid in the breeding center’s rebuilding.
Though there is no shortage of endearing clips of Zhen Zhen as she grows, Panda Tales is much more than a collection of “aw”-inspiring images. The program takes a serious look at the plight of the giant panda and how the zoo’s program has affected the resurgence of this endearing species.