Stories behind live coverage of giant pandas

By Yuan Fang
Print E-mail, August 19, 2016
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[Image from iPanda]

One month ago, over 10,000 Internet users watched a giant panda Shuqin living at the Bifengxia Base of the Giant Panda Protection and Research Center of China (GPPRCC) in Ya’an give birth to a baby on iPanda .

iPanda is an online channel that was jointly launched on August 6, 2013 by CNTV, Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and GPPRCC to offer 24/7 live coverage of the lives of giant pandas.

Netizens left messages of congratulations to the mother giant panda through various services of iPanda, including its website, weibo account and app.

The team responsible for the live coverage consists of members who are all 31 years old or younger.

On August 12, inside the team’s workplace, video editor Li Chengxuan was fixing her eyes on display screens which capture through 28 high-definition cameras the amusing moments of giant pandas living in the delivery room, the young panda section and the adult panda sections of Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.

When the image of a giant panda starting to move slowly appeared on the central screen, Li skillfully repositioned the cameras so that the panda could be seen by viewers through the high-definition live coverage platform.

[Image from iPanda]

One difficulty team members are faced with is recognizing each and every giant panda on all the cameras, said Li.

“It takes a long time, sometimes half a year to recognize them,” Li said. ”Staff members have to be attentive to the features of each panda.”

“For example, Qiqiao (the name of a panda) has two little black spots on its nose, Maoge has extraordinarily large dark circles, Shuanghao has a heart-shaped head, …” In order to give 24/7 live coverage, team members work on two shifts.

For Wu Zhenyu, another team member, a difficult task is live broadcasting the mating and childbearing of giant pandas.

Last year, he went to Ya’an with his colleagues to live broadcast the mating between Lulu and Ximei. They had to be glued to the two pandas to wait for the unpredictable mating time.

“We waited for one week until the day came,” said Wu. ”The live coverage lasted for more than three hours.”

Though tired, Li and his colleagues never complain.

“We love giant pandas from the bottom of our hearts,” said Wu. “Sometimes, a look from the giant pandas can dispel all our worries and pressure.”

Speaking of why they wanted to live broadcast the mating process, Wu explained: “There are three major challenges in giant panda breeding: mating, reproducing and the survival of panda cubs. Many people don’t know where the challenges come from, so we are giving the live coverage to popularize knowledge about giant pandas and make more people realize how important it is to protect the rare animal.”

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