Back to the Wild :

Today the Padmaja Naidu Himalalyan Zoological Park, Darjeeling has a stable and genetically healthy population of 21 Red Pandas in captivity. Pair at Gantok (Sikkim) has also started breeding i.e. one subsidiary breeding center has also been established in the zone.
And the Zoological Park is in a position of releasing Zoo bred Red pandas in the wild in the Singalila National Park (to begin with).
All necessary clearances from Govt. of India and Govt. of West Bengal have been obtained for the purpose.
For the first lot two females have been selected from the captive stock. Both the animals have been shifted to big off display naturalistic open air enclosure to give them a feel of wilderness.
Both the animals have been given complete health checkup (Vaccination / De-worming / Ectoparasites Treatments and skin / urine / stool and blood analysis).
The Daily diet of both the animals have been gradually changed from normal Zoo diet to poorer and more natural diet of the Red Panda in the wild.
Pre - release Monitoring fro Population Viability and Habitat Analysis in the Gairibas area of the Singalila National Park has been organized during November / December 2002.
IUCN guidelines for re-introduction / re-stocking of captivity born wild animals is being followed in totality for the programme.

Intermediary release facility for soft release of the animals has been created near Gairibas Beat Office (around 8500 feet) of South Singalila Range in the Singalila National Park. The construction cost is fully funded by the Central Zoo Authority, Govt. of India.

DNA based analysis has been conducted in collaboration with Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad for Taxonomic Status analysis and Genetic Variability studies. Same has also been done theoretically using the animals pedigree charts, history sheets and international studbook and it is found out that the animals are Ailurus fulgens fulgens, (the subspecies found in India) and in-breeding co-efficient is zero in both the cases.

Meetings with the fringe people at Gairibas and surrounding areas have been organized to brief them about the Project and to get their co-operation and support.

Both the animals have been shifted to the intermediary release facility at Gairibas for acclimatisation and kept there for 3 - 4 months. There the animals have been fed with natural diet in very natural environment, to make them fit for outside world.

Radio Collars of appropriate size are procured as the animals will be radio collared at least 15 day ahead of final release for post - release monitoring of the animals for at least 12 months (batteries are functional for that much period only).

As this project is a first of its kind in the country all possible precautions have been taken and / or are being taken to make it successful.

The Project Red Panda received inspiration from a host of officials, non-officials and institutions and staffs of Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Darjeeling.