To sate your panda fix (sneezing panda, anyone?), China is gearing up to launch an online giant panda channel in August, live streaming the iconic bears at a research center around the clock.
Dubbed iPanda, the channel will focus 28 high-definition cameras on the more than 80 giant pandas at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. A symbol of endangered species, the giant panda numbers less than 1,600 in the wild, most of them in Sichuan, with about 300 living in captivity around the world.
The Atlantic, calling the stream "giant panda reality TV," says the increased attention has the potential to harm preservation efforts. Giant pandas are a big money-maker for China, estimated to bring in $500,000 per breeding pair per year. As part of the conservation efforts, cubs born in captivity are eventually returned to China with the goal of being reintroduced to the wild. The idea sounds noble until one realizes that panda habitats are disappearing thanks to the country's rapid urbanization.
[Image: Flickr user George Lu]