Giant Panda Global Awards 2017

The winners of the fifth annual Giant Panda Global Awards were revealed today at the Official Award Ceremony at Zoo Berlin.

The Giant Panda Global Awards are organized by to promote the important panda conservation work in China and abroad.

Panda fans from around the world were invited to vote for their favorite pandas, people and institutions from December 20, 2017 until January 21, 2018.

300.487 votes were registered during the one-month online voting in 12 categories. The highest number of voters came from China, France, the United States of America, Indonesia, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, Singapore, South Korea, Russia and Denmark.

And here are the winners:

ZooParc de Beauval’s Yuan Meng, the first giant panda born in France, won the Gold Award in the category “Panda cub of the Year” with 51,92 % of the votes. The Silver Award went to Ueno Zoo’s Xiang Xiang, the first surviving panda cub in Tokyo in 30 years. CCRCGP will receive the Bronze Award for Cao Cao’s 2017 cub. This cub was the first captive panda conceived in the wild, after his mother was temporary released to mate with wild males.

The world’s only brown and white giant panda in captivity, Qi Zai of SWARC, won the Gold Award as “Favorite Panda in China”. The Silver Award goes to Mao Sun from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. CCRCGP’s Jin Baobao, who moved at the end of the online voting to Ähtäri Zoo in Finland, finished on the third place.

Lin Bing still has a very big fanclub. She was born at the Chiang Mai Zoo in Thailand and gave birth to multiple cubs after her return to CCRCGP. She won the Bronze Award as “Favorite Returned Panda”. Xing Bao, who was born at Zoo Aquarium de Madrid in Spain and returned to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in October 2017, finished on the second place. The Gold Award went to the first giant panda born in Malaysia, Nuan Nuan, who returned to CCRCGP in November 2017.

Zoo Atlanta’s Yang Yang will take the Bronze Award in the category “Favorite Panda Outside of China” to the United States of America. Yang Yang is the father of 7 cubs born in Atlanta, but he still loves to play like a little panda himself. Silver goes to Cai Tao, who moved to Taman Safari in Indonesia in September 2017. The Gold Award will stay in Germany for Zoo Berlin’s female Meng Meng.

Tiergarten Schönbrunn / Zoo Vienna’s Yang Yang did what no panda mother in captivity has done before. She raised twins Fu Feng & Fu Ban without any human assistance. This amazing achievement made her the winner of the Gold Award in the category “Panda Personality of 2017”. Jia Panpan & Jia Yueyue finished on the second place. The twins enjoyed their last summer at their birthplace, the Toronto Zoo, by spending time with mother Er Shun in both yards with much enrichment, before they will move to Calgary in Spring 2018. Pairi Daiza’s Tian Bao, who recently was weaned from his mother, will take the Bronze Award to Belgium.

Jansen Manansang, became the Bronze Human Panda Personality of 2017. The director of Taman Safari was happy to welcome his panda pair to Indonesia. Zhang Hemin, long-time leader and Director of CCRCGP, won the Silver Human Panda Personality Award. A record of 44 panda cubs were born at CCRCGP in 2017 and the reintroduction programme keeps expanding. The Gold Human Personality Award of 2017 went to Zhang Zhihe, the director of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. His Panda Base celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2017 and is a world leader in animal husbandry, conservation, public education, research and science.

The Gold Award for “Panda Keeper of the Year” went for the first time to a foreigner. Karyn Tunwell of the Toronto Zoo dedicated the past 5 years of her life to the wellbeing of Canada’s giant pandas. Wei Hua, CCRCGP’s keeper, who got attacked by a panda during reintroduction work, won Silver. Chengdu’s experienced nursery keeper Duan Dongqiong, who has raised many panda cubs in China and most recently helped Huan Huan in France, finished on podium place number three.

The category “Promising Young Foreign Scientist of the Year” has been added to the Giant Panda Global Awards for the first time this year. The Gold Award went to Dr. Jella Wauters, Ph.D. from Ghent University/Pairi Daiza for her research project: ‘Metabolomics in the Giant Panda: unraveling the reproductive biology’. The Silver Award went to Gabe Magnus, who studied the behaviour of the pandas at the Toronto Zoo for five years. The Bronze Award went to Dr. Meghan Martin-Wintle, Ph.D. from PDXWildlife/San Diego Zoo Global, for her research about panda mate-choice and reintroduction.

The category “Favorite Panda Enclosure” was modified to “Most educational panda zoo enclosure” during the last edition of the Giant Panda Global Awards. During this edition we have been looking for the “Most beautiful panda zoo enclosure”. Gold went to the Netherlands. Pandasia, the home of Wu Wen & Xing Ya at Ouwehands Dierenpark Rhenen received 15,01% of the votes. Zoo Parc de Beauval’s Sur les hauteurs de Chine finished second with 14,99%. Zoo Berlin’s Panda Garden won the Bronze Award after they received 14,97% of the votes.

Pandas International, the Denver Colorado, U.S.A. based non-profit, won the Gold Award in the category Favorite Panda Charity for the fourth consecutive time. The French Association Beauval Nature and the Panda Protection Institue of Japan joined PI on the podium.

A new category during this edition was “Panda Educational Entertainment of the Year”. The Disneynature Movie ‘Born in China’ received the Gold Award. The interactive book ‘The Little Zoo Explorer’ by Tiergarten Schönbrunn / Zoo Vienna’s Spokeswoman Johanna Bukovsky and Photographer Daniel Zupanc received the Silver Award. The Bronze Award will be shared by ‘The Giant Lanterns of China’ from RZSS Edinburgh Zoo and the song ‘Panda, Panda!’ by Ouwehands Dierenpark Rhenen’s Bamboo Bill who received both 14,51 % of the votes.

2017 was another year with many special giant panda moments. But only 3 could win an award for “Panda Moment of the Year”. The Bronze Award goes to the Zoo Negara Malaysia for the return of the first giant panda born in Malaysia, Nuan Nuan. The Silver Award goes to CCRCGP for the reintroduction of Ying Xue & Ba Xi into the wild. The Gold Award goes to Zoo Berlin for the opening of their Panda Garden by the Chinese President Xi Jinping & German Bundeskanzler Angela Merkel.

Basi of Fuzhou Panda World, the oldest giant panda in captivity, who died in October 2017, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

There are only 1.864 giant pandas left in the wild. The captive population today exists of 520 individuals. The work of the Chinese panda experts on ex-situ and in-situ panda conservation is a sign that there is hope for this endangered species and for many others. The giant panda is a real ambassador for wildlife and many other species benefit from the efforts that are made in the panda conservation field.

I would like to congratulate all winners and thank all voters who have supported the Giant Panda Global Awards, an event created to promote panda conservation, education and research activities.

Jeroen Jacobs