Chinese panda researchers spending summer in Philly

    Three researchers from a panda-breeding station in China are spending the summer in Philadelphia studying English and doing research on a scientific exchange.

    It is part of a 5-year-old partnership between Drexel University and the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.

    Scientists from both countries are exchanging ideas about conserving the endangered species, says James Spotila, Drexel professor and head of the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation.

    “One of the examples of this exchange is that the folks in China have been focusing on the panda as an animal, as an individual, and the approach we’ve taken here that’s been somewhat different has been to integrate approaches of physics and math and ecology together to look at the organism and its environment sort of holistically,” Spotila said.

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    The Chinese scientists are studying English during their time at Drexel University, and went to New Hampshire for field research.

    There, they learned how an independent scientist has been introducing captive black bears into the wild by giving them trial periods outside of their captive habitats before setting them loose for good.

    “I think that’s very important to give a chance to the captive bear to learn the survival skills in the wild,” said Hou Rong, Chendu’s director of research.

    She said she might take the tactic back to China, where researchers have not been able to successfully introduce pandas they have bred into the wild.

    Rong and colleagues will give a free lecture on their work in China at Drexel on Wednesday at 2 p.m.

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