By Victoria Ouyang
The giant panda, a lovable symbol for the wildlife conservation movement, is no longer considered an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The IUCN has reported that the population of giant pandas has now reached a large enough number to be removed from the “endangered” list, and they are now classified as “vulnerable.” Today, in 2016, there are nearly 2,060 pandas, a significant increase from the 1,596 counted in 2004. Giant pandas were first declared endangered in 1984, more than thirty years ago, and since then the Chinese government and many organizations have worked to preserve the pandas and rebuild habitats. Here in Memphis, the Zoo has done its part to help the Pandas through its exhibition as means of conservation. In 2003, the Memphis Zoo was one of the only four in the United States to exhibit these animals. Since then, many other zoos and organizations have stepped up to save this species. That being said, the IUCN notes that global warming could potentially reverse the past 20 years of progress. Therefore, the conservation efforts across the world, including our own here in Memphis, will continue to play a huge role in keeping the giant pandas off of the endangered list.