Part of the show Space Science & Extraterrestrial Life
A novel approach could soon be adopted by scientists in the race to save endangered pandas - the iconic trademark of the conservation movement. Scientists have almost completed the world's first panda blood bank which is being built at the Woolong Nature Reserve in Southwest China's Sichuan Province. The aim of the bloodbank is to assist researchers in studying the endangered animals' blood types, improving the chances of performing successful blood transfusions in the future. At the moment vets can only offer limited supportive measures for sick pandas and there are circumstances under which blood transfusions could help significantly to accelerate the recovery process. However, a crucial step before this can be done is to gain a better understanding of pandas' blood types, and whether, like humans, pandas have different blood 'groups'. The centre will carry out a general survey of the blood types of all 81 pandas kept there, and collect and store blood from them to help with the treatment of other animals in the future. The information collected at te blood bank will also assist the panda breeding programmes by helping to minimise the risks of inbreeding.