Thu, September 30, 2010
Lifestyle > Society

Six panda lovers crowned "pambassadors"

2010-09-30 07:04:27 GMT2010-09-30 15:04:27 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Panda enthusiasts pose for photo at a panda breeding and research center in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, Sept. 28, 2010. (Xinhua/Jiang Hongjing)

Panda enthusiasts take part in a training to set up shelves for pandas in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, Sept. 27, 2010. (Xinhua/Jiang Hongjing)

Two Panda enthusiasts take a training to wash the bamboo for pandas in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, Sept. 24, 2010. (Xinhua/Jiang Hongjing)

Panda enthusiasts take a training to make food for pandas in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, Sept. 24, 2010. (Xinhua/Jiang Hongjing)

CHENGDU, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- Forget the "Super Girls" and all the American idol-like talent shows. For now, China's super stars are those people who know everything about giant pandas.

Six panda lovers have been named as "pambassadors" after the grand finals of a global competition for panda keepers held Wednesday afternoon in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Wang Yu-wen, a university student from Taiwan, stood out as the champion of the contest. The five other winners hail from the Chinese mainland, Japan, Sweden, France and the United States.

The six winners will spend one month taking care of six giant pandas in Chengdu and blog about their experiences at in an effort to raise awareness about the endangered animal's plight.

They will also have the opportunity to witness the birth of baby pandas and trek into the mountains around Chengdu to study wild pandas.

During the contest, the twelve finalists answered a wide range of questions on panda care, named eight types of bamboo, staged an artistic performance to demonstrate their personality and give a presentation about pandas.

Their performances were judged by a five-member expert panel, which consisted of three panda researchers, World Wild Fund for Nature official Jing Hui and John Banovich, an avid wildlife painter from the United States.

"The contestants know much about the history and background knowledge of the giant pandas, but they lack in expert knowledge," Zhang Anju, an expert judge said, "But generally speaking, they have done a great job since they have had just one week's training before the contest."

The artistic performance was the highlight of the event, as the contestants put on talent shows, which they had been preparing for days.

Italian contestant Ylenia Vimercati Molano's emulating of panda's moves and South African contestant Chriszalda Pieterse's humorous performance of the traditional opera of Sichuan Province triggered roars of laughter and applause from the audience.

During the presentation section of the event, the contestants told stories about their favorite pandas.

At the end of his presentation, French contestant David Algranti said, "The result of the contest is not important at all. My purpose for joining this event is to make some contribution for the protection of the giant pandas, and thankfully I have been rewarded with some precious friendships and knowledge about giant pandas along the way."

Organized by the Chengdu Panda Base and conservation group WWF, the contest has drawn more than 62,000 applicants from around the world. Twelve lucky contestants were selected by the panel of experts to enter the final round.

The 12 finalists arrived in Chengdu on Sept. 23 for training at the Chengdu Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding. They learned to clean panda enclosures, prepare bamboo, fruit and corn bread, and build outdoor climbing facilities.

Giant pandas are among the world's most endangered species. Some 1,600 pandas live in the wild, while more than 300 pandas are being raised in captivity in China.

After succeeding in having the animals mate in captivity, researchers are now looking at ways to send captive-bred pandas into the forests to boost the number of animals in the wild.

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