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IVF Project Stirs Debate Over How to Preserve Pandas

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Science  14 Jun 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5268, pp. 1580-1581
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5268.1580


Beijing—The giant panda has become a symbol of international efforts to protect endangered species. But the so-called “living fossil” also stands at the center of a long-running scientific debate about the appropriate use of technology in China, home to all of the world's approximately 1000 wild pandas as well as nearly 100 living in 29 zoos and research centers. A new project to produce the world's first giant panda conceived by in vitro fertilization (IVF) has pitted advocates of captive breeding techniques against those who favor greater efforts to improve conditions in the wild. That dispute extends into the central government, where officials from the ministry responsible for zoos and captive breeding vie for limited resources with officials from another ministry that oversees wildlife preservation and conservation.