The Giant Panda Global Awards recognize Pairi Daiza19/02/2018

On 8th February, two Belgians were rewarded during the 5th edition of the Giant Panda Global Awards ceremony at the Berlin Zoo, Germany. Jella Wauters, a researcher for the Pairi Daiza Foundation at the University of Ghent, won the first prize in the “Best Scientific Hope” category while little Tian Bao, the first baby panda in Belgium born in 2016 at Pairi Daiza, ranked third  in the “Panda Personality of the Year” category.

In 2000 the Belgian Jeroen Jacobs created the website which organises the Giant Panda Global Awards. These Awards’ purpose is to educate the public about giant pandas and about the efforts that are made to save this endangered species: only 1,864 giant pandas remain in the wild and the captivity population only amounts  to 520.

It is in this preserving perspective that the scientist Jella Wauters is leading the “Metabolomics in the Giant Panda: unravelling the reproductive biology” research for the Pairi Daiza Foundation. Basically, this research aims to develop a test that will allow all scientists to predict when the panda female is in heat on the basis of hormone markers present in the animal's urine. Indeed, a giant panda female is fertile only once a year and that period only lasts at most 3 days. Their pregnancy remains a mystery for the scientific community. These studies will therefore significantly increase the chances of reproduction since it will make it possible to determine the precise moment of ovulation and to follow the animal pregnancy progress.

With 26 nominated zoos throughout the world in 12 categories and more than 300,000 online votes coming from more than 20 countries in a month, these awards are a double worldwide recognition for Jella Wauters and other committed scientists’ work as well as for Pairi Daiza teams which are in daily contact with these amazing animals.

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