First captive-bred giant panda released into the wild

Good news for panda lovers (so, basically everybody): On Friday, the first of 103 giant pandas being bred at a Chinese research center was released into the wild. And panda-monium ensued! OK, not really. Four-year-old Xiang Xiang, whose name means “auspicious,” wandered without event from his cage into the bamboo forests of China’s Sichuan province. He will be tracked with a GPS device as he deals with real-world panda problems like parasites and group assimilation. Giant pandas are highly endangered due to loss of habitat, poaching, and a low reproductive rate; about 1,590 (make that 1,591) live in the wild. While Xiang Xiang’s foray is “certainly a significant event,” a World Wildlife Fund representative in China suggested that habitat preservation is still a better way of keeping pandas around than captive breeding.