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China announced this week that it has removed the giant panda from its list of endangered species, celebrating the status change as a success of China’s long-term conservation efforts, including the creation of a giant national park for the iconic animals. “The panda population in the wild has risen to about 1,800, which reflects their improved living conditions and China’s efforts in keeping their habitats integrated,” Cui Shuhong, head of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment’s Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation, said at a news conference.
China said it will still classify the giant panda, considered a national treasure, as vulnerable and protected under conservation laws. That puts China’s status for pandas in line with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which switched the animals from endangered to vulnerable in 2016. A panda conservation staff member told China Daily that China solved several major breeding issues since 2000, and “since 2006, we have managed to breed an increasing number of pandas in captivity, and about nine of them survived after being released into the wild.”