The Smithsonian National Zoological Park has announced a five-year, $4.5 million gift from David M. Rubenstein to help fund its panda program.
The gift will be used to fund conservation efforts in China, reproductive science, professional training programs, giant panda care and upgrades to panda habitats at the zoo, and public education. In addition, young conservation biologists in the United States and China who are awarded National Zoo fellowships for their work to save the endangered species will be named David M. Rubenstein Fellows. In recognition of the gift, the giant panda complex will be named the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat.
The gift will enable a scientific team from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the zoo's animal care team to proceed with a five-year plan developed with Chinese colleagues from the China Wildlife Conservation Association. The plan focuses on the creation and impact of corridors linking fragmented habitats to benefit giant pandas and other species; the restoration of panda habitat, especially in regions where pandas appear to be making a comeback; the potential impact of transmissible diseases on giant panda populations and other species; and continued research on giant panda reproduction and management.
"On behalf of the zoo advisory board, we are most grateful to David for his generous gift, which keeps the beloved giant pandas at the National Zoo for Washington, D.C., and all Americans to enjoy," said zoo advisory board chair John Marriott. "More importantly, his generosity will enable us and our Chinese partners to continue our conservation work to give this critically endangered species the chance to survive in its native habitat."