Panda-talk deciphered by Chinese researchers

By Sarah Harvey

Xing Hui, a 6-year-old giant panda born in China.
REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
Xing Hui, a 6-year-old giant panda born in China. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
Scientists in China claim to have deciphered giant Panda language.

Researchers at a conservation centre in the south-western Sichuan province conducted a five-year-study on the communications between Panda.

They found that male pandas baa like a sheep when courting a mate, and females respond with a bird-like chirp or twitter if they’re keen, the Xinhua news agency reported.

“Trust me – our researchers were so confused when we began the project, they wondered if they were studying a panda, a bird, a dog, or a sheep,” says Zhang Hemin, head of the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda, which ran the study.

Panda cubs make a “wow-wow” sound to indicate they’re unhappy, and say “gee-gee” to alert their mother that they’re hungry, the report says.

The pandas were recorded in a variety of situations including when they were eating, fighting and nursing young.

Zhang says understanding how pandas communicate will help conservationists to protect the endangered animals, particularly in the wild. The centre is even hoping to invent a “panda translator” using voice-recognition technology.

There are just over 1800 pandas left in the wild, all in China. More than 300 are living in captivity in conservation centres and zoos around the world.

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