(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120704/CN34711 )
PAW, supported by panda expert and TV wildlife presenter Nigel Marven, is pioneered by the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (Chengdu Panda Base), a world-renowned breeding and research base for giant pandas in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province. PAW aims to enhance awareness and support for panda conservation and protection for one of the world's most threatened species.
This week's PAW activity will be taking place in London until 6th July, and sees the panda posse hosting a "panda party" in Covent Garden, taking over the London Underground and visiting the city's most famous landmarks. The 108 costumed pandas represent the 108 pandas currently at the Chengdu panda base, which plays a leading role in fostering continued growth of the giant panda population, and rescue and rehabilitation to return them back to their natural habitat.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Chengdu panda base, founded in 1987 when 6 giant pandas were rescued from the wild. Through a dedicated conservation plan, Chengdu now has the largest captive breeding panda population in the world, and aims to increase it from 108 to 150 pandas over the next 10 years.
During PAW Nigel Marven and panda experts from Chengdu, accompanied by the costumed pandas, will also visit London primary schools to educate and inspire children in the importance of saving the giant panda and how they can play a role in Chengdu's ongoing conservation efforts.
PAW is committed to creating a long lasting legacy- it is also enabling primary schools across the UK to partake in a "Panda Pal" education programme, whereby schools can sign up to receive regular updates and information on the health, well-being and development of a chosen group of pandas to foster ongoing interest and meaningful engagement between the schools in London and the Chengdu Panda Base in China.
On his work at the Chengdu Panda base and his role as PAW's Official Ambassador, Nigel Marven said, "In August 2010 I visited the Chengdu panda base and it was a truly magical experience that resulted in me having the privilege of becoming the first Western Chengdu Panda Ambassador. Pandas have been a lifelong passion of mine which is why I jumped at the chance to be involved with the launch of Panda Awareness Week in London.
"I am confident all the great work taking place during PAW will highlight the fantastic efforts of Chengdu city, especially the Chengdu panda base and in turn, help raise awareness for one of the world's most threatened species, the giant panda."
Dr. Zhang Zhihe, Director of the Chengdu panda base, said, "The Chengdu panda base is thrilled to be launching Panda Awareness Week in London as the world's attention shifts to the city ahead of the 2012 Olympics.
"Our ultimate goal is to help pandas return to their natural habitat and to grow the number of giant pandas living in the wild. We hope that Panda Awareness Week helps us effectively widen the support for panda conservation and find new advocates for this very special cause."
PAW will be officially launched at a VIP reception event attended by important guests from both Chengdu and London, at a bespoke Bamboo House in heart of Covent Garden on 4 July.
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