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New documentary reveals panda problems are not black and white

By JULIAN SHEA in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-10-15 09:44
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The Mating Game was filmed in 22 countries across six continents, looking at the mating behavior of a wide range of animals. CHINA DAILY

The makers of a major new internationally co-produced wildlife documentary series currently being streamed in China on Bilibili say studying the mating patterns of giant pandas made them realize that many of the most commonly-held opinions about the animals and their behavior are entirely untrue.

The Mating Game is the latest series produced by Silverback Films for the world-renowned BBC Natural History Unit and Discovery, in partnership with Bilibili, France Televisions and NHK. Filmed in 22 countries across six continents, it looks at the variety of ways different species around the world go through the experience of courtship and mating.

The fifth and final episode visits the Wolong Panda Center in China and features giant pandas, commonly regarded as being some of nature's worst breeders. But episode producer Simon Nash told China Daily that the reality is less simple than people assume.

"The beauty of the giant panda story is that superficially, yes, they're bad breeders but only because of what humans have done to them," he said.

"Sticking two together in a zoo and expecting them to get on with it isn't the normal way, and as you dig beneath the surface, all the things we think we know prove to be wrong.

"Public perception is that they're notoriously bad at mating but they're not - leave them alone in the wild and they do much better than captive breeding. It's our understanding of what they need that is missing. In the series, we're looking at habitat destruction and the reinvention of their wild habitat, as that's where the root of the problem came from.

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