Beijing: An "artificially-bred" panda, who grew up in "semi-wild" conditions, was Thursday returned to the wild in China, a move that marked a new phase for panda protection efforts in the country.
Born in the Wolong nature reserve in Sichuan province in August 2010, "Taotao" is now a two-year-old male, Xinhua reported.
On Thursday, it was released from its cage, and it ran straight towards a bamboo forest in Lipingzi nature reserve in Sichuan, and embraced a new life.
Taotao`s release to nature was the second of such efforts in China, after five-year-old "Xiangxiang" was set free in 2006.
However, the first try failed as Xiangxiang died during fights with other wild pandas for food and territory about a year after release.
Scientists learned from the experience and improved training methods that focused on the panda cub learning from its mother.
"As opposed to Xiangxiang`s captive-bred environment, Taotao has lived and grown in semi-wild conditions since being very little. This means that its fighting capability and survival skills both improved significantly," said an official from the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda.
Taotao had undergone three rounds of training before going back to the wild.
It was fed and raised by its mother, and also learned basics such as climbing, and how to withstand mud-rock flows, snow disasters and rainstorms. It also learned to fear humans and hide from them. Taotao was also trained to recognise enemies of its own kind.
However, officials are worried whether Taotao will pull through the difficulties in inevitable competitions with wild pandas and avoid natural enemies such as bears, leopards and wolves.
The number of wild pandas in China has increased to more than 1,600, while the number of captive-bred animals stands at 342.