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PANDAS INTERNATIONAL
April 15, 2010

I became a member of Pandas International a few years ago after the birth of Tai Shan, the Giant Panda born at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington DC in 2005. For millions of panda devotees and myself, Tai Shan’s birth was a joyous event that also brought home the plight of China’s endangered Giant Pandas and our global imperative to save this wonderful species. Inevitably my love for pandas led me to Pandas International (PI), the panda advocacy group in Denver, CO. Founded in 1999 by Suzanne Braden and Diane Rees, PI is the Giant Panda’s lifeline to panda lovers and animal conservationists in the United States. At the same time, PI is the outside world’s window into the progress of panda conservation in China. I’ve been so impressed not only with PI’s efforts on behalf of panda conservation but with the way Suzanne and her staff interact daily by phone/e-mail with PI’s members, many of whom have adopted pandas in China. As the Director of Pandas International, Suzanne Braden works with the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP) on the panda centers’ needs for funding and the pandas’ food, medical supplies/equipment in addition to unforeseen national emergencies like the devastating earthquake in 2008 that destroyed the CCRCGP’s headquarters in Wolong, Sichuan province. Suzanne and her staff worked tirelessly to help raise funds for the pandas and their devoted caretakers who risked their lives to move the pandas from Wolong to safety. Soon after the Sichuan earthquake, Suzanne traveled to Wolong to help and bring aid. I'll never forget the photos of Suzanne comforting the grief-stricken keeper of the panda Mao Mao who perished in the Wolong quake. Year after year PI continues to raise funds to save the pandas; provide much-needed equipment like ultra-sound machines for panda breeding; and keep the international community informed about the needs and welfare of the pandas. Suzanne Braden’s personal rapport with Chinese officials, veterinarians and CCRCGP staffers is a crucial bridge between the panda advocates in China and America. Suzanne, Carrie Phillips and the other PI staffers are always there to answer my questions about all things panda! Will the Bifengxia base have a pandacam so Tai Shan’s fans in the US can see him? Where can I get updates and photos on my adopted cubbies, Wang Jia and Wen Yu? Is Wang Jia a boy or girl? Why did the Washington Post say Tai Shan will fade into “obscurity” after moving from DC to Bifengxia?! What's up with the pandacam?! Call PI!!! Pandas International is the model advocacy group for animal conservation because it focuses on the pandas' needs while addressing the concerns of its members. As one who is deeply concerned about the fate of the endangered Giant Pandas, I greatly appreciate the tireless dedication that Pandas International has devoted to the magnificent panda bears of China. Ultimately, Pandas International is not just about pandas: Pandas International is about pandas and the people who love them.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Pandas International's focus on getting funds/food/medical supplies to the panda breeding and research centers in China instead of spending its resources to staging publicity-driven social events that take away from it's primary goal: saving the pandas!

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

help save the Giant Panda and ensure that pandas will be around for a long, long time!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

MY ROLE:
Donor & I've adopted 2 panda cubbies and also donated toward China's earthquake relief that devastated Wolong panda base. I also support PI through the group donations of Pandas Unlimited, a 2,700+ member group of panda fans/photographers.