China Marks 150 Years Since Scientific Naming of Giant Panda

Giant panda twins Mengbao and Mengyu are seen at their new home at the Beijing Zoo in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 13, 2019. (Xinhua/Li Xin)

GENEVA (Xinhua) — Giant panda is once again showing its irresistible charm Tuesday here by attracting hundreds of diplomats and international officials to attend a photo exhibition and related cultural activities.

The exhibition, jointly sponsored by the UN office at Geneva, the Chinese Mission to UN at Geneva and the provincial government of China’s Sichuan province, was devoted to mark the 150th anniversary of the scientific naming of giant panda.

“Sichuan is in Southwest China. On this land of fascinating natural beauty, man and nature co-exist in perfect harmony. Among its happy inhabitants are the cute giant pandas,” said Chen Xu, head of the Chinese Mission here, at the opening of the exhibition.

“Sichuan made the world’s first discovery of the species and 150 years ago their scientific naming brought them to international attention,” Chen noted.

In 1869, the French missionary Armand David came across the giant panda in Baoxing County of Sichuan province, and then named it and brought one specimen to Europe.

Since then, every time a giant panda has traveled across the sea to a foreign country, it will arouse people’s enthusiastic attention and cheers.

Figures from Tuesday’s exhibition showed that since the establishment of the first giant panda reserve in 1963, China has established 67 giant panda nature reserves, with more than 1,800 wild pandas and 548 captive giant pandas, and thus formed a stable population of the species.

In the Red List of Threatened Species on Sept. 4, 2016, which assesses a species’ conservation status, the International Union for Conservation of Nature reported the giant panda population has improved enough for the endangered species label to be downgraded to “vulnerable.”

Unique to China and adored around the world, giant pandas have brought China’s friendship and kindness to millions of people around the world.

According to the latest figure from Tuesday’s exhibition, by the end of 2018, a total of 56 giant pandas were living abroad.

Speaking at Tuesday’s opening ceremony, Marco Lambertini, Director General of the World Wildlife Fund, said that wherever it appears, the giant panda will always deliver a strong message of nature conservation to the audience.