Berlin pockets three Panda Awards
From 20 December 2017 to 21 January 2018, panda fans from all over the world cast their votes in the Giant Panda Global Awards. Zoo Berlin was nominated in five of the twelve categories, and picked up three awards in total:
• Gold in the category “Panda Moment of the Year” for the official opening of the Panda Garden
• Gold in the category “Favorite Panda Outside of China” for Meng Meng
• Bronze in the category “Most Beautiful Panda Zoo Enclosure” for the Panda Garden
“We are very proud to have won these awards,” says Zoo and Tierpark Director Dr Andreas Knieriem. “The opening of the Panda Garden in the presence of Chancellor Merkel and President Xi was an incredible moment for us, too, and one that we shall remember for a long time to come. I am also delighted that our little Meng Meng was chosen as the favourite panda outside of China – although of course she was already the favourite in our eyes.”
Voter participation in this year’s awards was record-breaking. “More than 300,000 votes were cast from 127 countries” reports the founder of the GiantPandaGlobal website, Jeroen Jacobs. “This is the biggest response to date!” And German citizens made an important contribution to the success of their pandas, as Germany cast the fifth-highest number of votes – behind only China, France, the United States, and Indonesia.
History of the awards
The awards were initiated by Jeroen Jacobs, founder of the GiantPandaGlobal website, as a platform to draw attention to the threat facing giant pandas and to promote conservation efforts. But the event has another positive side effect: as zoos around the world vie to prove the excellence of their panda keeping and awareness-raising activities, facilities at all zoos just keep getting better.
Pandas under threat
Giant pandas, more than any other animal, have become an international symbol of species conservation, and occupy an almost holy status in their native country. These remarkable bears were once found from right up in the northeastern part of China all the way down into Myanmar and Vietnam. Today, the territory of the giant panda has shrunk to the sparse coniferous and deciduous woods in the mountainous regions of China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. The latest panda count carried out by China’s State Forestry Administration in 2014 recorded at least 1,864 of these bears living in their natural habitat – 17 percent more than in 2004. But despite successful conservation efforts, the survival of giant pandas in the wild is not guaranteed. In fact, pandas are still classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.