ANIMALS

Pambassador contestants vie for chance to help panda conservation

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Four out of 24 contestants will be heading to China in just a few weeks in the “Pambassador” program, a global initiative for panda conservation.

D.C. resident Ashley Jager found the program online when she was reading up on pandas after the National Zoo panda cub died a few weeks ago.

“I've never actually seen a baby panda in real life before, so I was so excited and it was really devastating that it passed away,” she says of the 6-day-old baby panda that died at the National Zoo.

Wild life officials say panda survival in captivity is extremely hard - and the same goes for in the wild.

They say there's only about 1,600 pandas left in the wild, making them one of the most endangered species in the world.

But officials say even with bad news like the sudden death of the D.C. panda cub, the good news is, the numbers are growing, albeit slow.

The winners of the Pambassador program will spend all of 2013 traveling the world, visiting different zoos and teaching others about panda conservation.

Ashley Robertson was the first U.S. Pambassador. She's glad that others will get a similar chance to save this furry fan favorite.

“That's why we have to work so hard to promote conservation and make sure we get those numbers up in the wild and make sure we start releasing those in captivity into the wild, which is what the Chengdu research base is trying to do,” she says.

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