China's panda research program includes a plan for releasing pandas into the wild. Tao Tao is the first panda born in captivity to be released. The cub has been housed at a semi-wild panda facility -and has never seen a human. Workers who cared for Tao Tao and his mother Cao Cao always dressed in Panda costumes! The two pandas were gradually moved to denser forest with less human intervention over the course of two years to prepare them for release.
The keepers approached the two-year-old carefully and placed him in a wooden box at the panda wild training base.
On release, Tao Tao seemed unafraid of the strange figures who walked behind as he took his first steps through his new home in dense bamboo undergrowth high in the mountains in Wolong, in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.