Initially, we planned to focus this book entirely on the substantial results of the Biomedical Survey organised under the umbrella of the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) of the IUCN-World Conservation Union's Species Survival Commission. However, as our work continued within China, we discovered a wealth of additional studies being conducted by both western and Chinese colleagues. Thus, the book rapidly expanded to cover a number of related topics of interest to anyone concerned about giant pandas or fascinated with their biology, husbandry, medical care and management. We are most grateful for the dedicated efforts of each of the authors who contributed to this book. Kathy Carlstead, Lori Eggert, JoGayle Howard, Olav Oftedal, Jesus Maldonado, Jill Mellen, Suzan Murray, Amanda Pickard, Kathy Traylor-Holzer, Rebecca Spindler, Karen Terio and Duane Ullrey generously assisted the editors in providing reviewer comments to chapters.
This endeavour would not have been possible without the incredible trust and accessibility to expertise, physical resources and especially the animals offered by Chinese colleagues. Their confidence, friendship, enthusiasm and hospitality were inspiring. The CBSG Biomedical Survey was possible first because of the enormous amounts of time dedicated by all members of the team - more than 65 active investigators. Anju Zhang, Zhihe Zhang, Guangxin He, Hemin Zhang, Jinquo Zhang, Don Janssen and JoGayle Howard played particularly important leadership roles in the myriad of survey responsibilities, especially in planning, interpretation and follow-up. We thank the directors of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Chengdu Zoo, Chongqing Zoo, Beijing Zoo and the China Conservation and Research Centre for providing physical resources and animals, as well as the staff at each of these institutions for their kind and willing assistance. The Survey also required significant amounts of funding and in-kind support. We are deeply appreciative of financial support provided by the Giant Panda Conservation Foundation (GPCF) of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA), the Zoological Society of San Diego, the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park, Columbus Zoo, Zoo Atlanta and the Saint Louis Zoo. David Towne (GPCF) and Kris Vehrs (AZA) deserve special credit for encouraging North American zoo directors to invest in the future of giant pandas by supporting the Biomedical Survey and other studies described in this book. British Airways generously donated many of the tickets used by USA-based scientists to travel to China. Our other corporate sponsors - Nellcor Puritan Bennett, Heska, Sensory Devices Inc., InfoPet Identification Systems, Air-Gas Inc., Ohaus and Olympus America Inc. - provided inkind donations of survey equipment now in use in Chinese institutions.
The Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens, especially Men-ghu Wang and Zhong Xie, resolved numerous political challenges that continue to facilitate studies to this day in China. The Biomedical Survey and the many spin-off studies would never have emerged without the initial invitation of Madam Shuling Zheng, of the Ministry of Construction, that prompted CBSG's involvement with giant pandas. The Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Giant Panda Office paved the way for expanding the Survey to include giant pandas under State Forest Administration purview. More recently, the China Wildlife Conservation Association (in particular Rusheng Cheng and Shanning Zhang) have assisted, especially in the organisation of training courses directed to in situ conservation. During the first year of the Survey, Wei Zhong's translation helped avoid what could have been numerous misunderstandings as both the China- and USA-based teams learned to work together. Throughout our efforts in China, Xiaoping Lu and Mabel Lam (formerly of the Zoological Society of San Diego and now with M. L. Associates, LLC) have been relentless problem-solvers and amazingly capable of understanding and resolving cultural challenges and the occasional miscommunication. Their efforts to build bridges between the two cultures have been tireless, and it is safe to say that everyone associated with every study in this book extends their heartfelt appreciation to these two wonderfully dedicated people.
David Wildt thanks the staff of the Department of Reproductive Sciences and the administration of the National Zoo for their patience in understanding the amount of time taken from normal duties to complete this book. Laura Walker of the National Zoo's Conservation and Research Centre provided invaluable help in the final phases of manuscript preparation. All of the co-editors are grateful to Alan Crow-den, Mike Meakin, Ward Cooper and especially Clare Georgy of Cambridge University Press for believing in the need for this book, for answering countless questions and facilitating the assemblage of a high-quality product.
Finally, during the course of this work, we (and the entire conservation community) lost two colleagues who were intimately associated with the CBSG Biomedical Survey. Arlene Kumamoto (Zoological Society of San Diego) was the geneticist/laboratory technical specialist during the first year of the Survey; she died of pancreatic cancer in 2000. Her diligence, good humour, friendship and strong belief in the importance of collaborative science are sorely missed. Ulie Seal (former Chairman of CBSG) was one-of-a-kind - a charismatic scientific leader, Renaissance Man and a person who believed that people and collaborative problemsolving were the keys to successful conservation; he died of lung cancer in 2003. Ulie made us all believe that it wasn't an option to give anything but our very best - and then some. Arlene and Ulie would have been delighted with what has been accomplished but at the same time would have said 'Do more'. We dedicate this book to their memory and hope that it is a useful step in generating more scholarly information through collaborative science, both of which are needed to conserve this Earth's increasingly threatened biodiversity.
Was this article helpful?