Why have a policy just for pandas?
Giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)
are protected by the U.S. Endangered
Species Act (ESA) and the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
(CITES). Any import requires the Fish
and Wildlife Service to issue a permit
under these wildlife measures. The giant
panda is unique. It is highly endangered,
with probably fewer than 1,000 animals in
the wild, extremely popular with the
public worldwide, and capable of
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Giant Panda Policy
Questions & Answers
generating substantial profit when
displayed. Because of this, giant panda
imports have had a controversial history.
Conservationists fear humans will “love
the panda to death.”
What does the policy cover?
The policy clarifies the information
considered in making permit findings
under CITES and the ESA, and assists
persons in filing a complete application
for panda import, export, re-export, take,
or interstate or foreign commerce. The
policy also provides guidance to assist
Service decision-makers and staff in
reviewing panda permit applications to
ensure that permit issuance criteria
have been addressed. The policy
discusses the purposes for which a
permit can be issued and when
exhibition of pandas is allowed. It
provides guidance to ensure that the
import will not contribute to the
removal of pandas from the wild, and
guidance on the use of funds
associated with a panda transfer.
How can an institution meet the
criteria set forth in the policy?
The primary goal of the policy is to
ensure that permitted activities will
directly contribute to the survival and
recovery of the wild panda population.
To accomplish this goal, the Service
will review an application to determine
that it is a proposal for scientific
research, enhancing the sustainability
of the captive population, and
contributing to the recovery of pandas
in the wild. The Service will consider
whether the application:
! Outlines how net profits will be
calculated and fund disbursement
will be monitored, and has a
provision to provide an annual
accounting report that clearly
shows whether a net profit was
made and how the funds were used
! Includes a bona fide scientific
research proposal, i.e., one that is
properly designed using scientific
methods focusing on a specific
topic, that advances and/or
supplements the scientific
knowledge of panda ecology, and
that is specifically relevant to the
expertise of the institution.
! Addresses how the proposed
research, if related to captive
breeding, supplements China’s
conservation program to achieve a
self-sustaining captive population.
! Relates the origin and biological
background of the panda to those
selected to accomplish the purpose of
the project (this is to ensure that the
requested activity does not cause the
removal of animals from the wild).
! Contains a plan to ensure that the
public display of pandas will not
interfere with the research activities.
! Shows that the applicant has the
expertise, resources, and facilities to
accomplish the stated objectives of the
! Shows that the research is part of a
coordinated panda conservation effort
and that scientific findings will be
! Contains a description of how funds
associated with the panda loan (loan
money, net profits, or fund-raising
dollars) will support high priority
panda conservation projects identified
by the Panda Office of the China State
Forestry Administration or China’s
Captive Breeding Plan, with a
significant portion of the funds
allocated for panda projects in the
wild, thus, addressing the CITES
criteria that the import is not for
primarily commercial purposes.
! Is a long term loan commitment and
contains a copy of the loan agreement
with the appropriate entity within
! Shows that research on captive
breeding will be coordinated through
the American Zoo and Aquarium
Association’s Species Survival Plan
for giant pandas (or a similar plan) and
with China’s Captive Breeding Plan.
What are the purposes and
circumstances under which a permit
can be issued?
Under the policy, permits can be issued
for the following:
! Scientific research if the research is
directly linked and will contribute to
the recovery of pandas in the wild.
! A combination of both research and
conservation activities that enhance
the survival of the species.
Before the Service can issue a permit, it
must make the following findings under
CITES and the ESA:
! Import is not for primarily
! Purpose of the import is not
detrimental to the survival of the
species in the wild.
! Importer has facilities and expertise
to care for the pandas.
! Purpose of the import is consistent
with the ESA (i.e., for scientific
research or for the enhancement of
the survival or propagation of the
species—purposes which benefit the
panda in the wild).
! Import will not jeopardize panda
populations in the wild.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Division of Management Authority
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 700
Arlington, VA 22203
703/358-2104 or 800/358-2104
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