The Giant Panda, one of the most delightful and captivating of animals, is also one of the most endangered. The best scientific estimates indicate that there are around 1,864 Wild Giant Pandas remaining in the world today.
In 1999, after a trip to China and the Wolong Panda Center, the plight of the Giant Panda made such a dramatic impression on Suzanne Braden and Diane Rees that upon returning to the United States, they co-founded Pandas International, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit, to help save this magnificent animal. Unlike other organizations which serve many animals, Pandas International is exclusively devoted to the Giant Panda.
As the Director of Pandas International, Mrs. Braden coordinates both the annual and immediate needs of the Panda Centers managed by the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda. The personal relationships she has developed with Chinese officials, veterinarians and their staff members have allowed Pandas International to maximize its role in preserving this beloved species.
Following the 2008 earthquake which destroyed the Wolong Panda Center and damaged the bamboo forest in the Nature Reserve, the challenge to save the Giant Panda has been made more difficult. Without intervention, this species could perish.
Pandas International has two program areas: Direct Support of the Panda Centers and Education of the public and especially youth about the Giant Pandas.
Educating students and adults on the status of the Giant Pandas is an important part of our mission. We receive letters and e-mails from students every day and help many students with reports on Giant Pandas. Pandas International distributes education kits to classrooms across the U.S. plus many foreign countries.
We feel children are the best ambassadors for the Giant Pandas and frequently can get the entire family involved. The more children take an interest in endangered species preservation, specifically Giant Pandas, the more likely they will care about them as adults and continue donating to help them thrive and survive.
While we conduct Skype sessions with a variety of schools around the country, since we are based in CO it is only in CO that we actually go to local schools and do a formal presentation to classes and assemblies. We have visited school from Kindergarten to Middle schools but most of our emphasis is on elementary schools. Programs focus on Conservation, Ecosystems, Habitats and how Pandas are an “Umbrella Species” which means saving the pandas also helps to save other species who share their habitat. Information provided on the Giant Pandas are based on the science of the species.