Kung Fu Panda is back in the second film from the well-liked DreamWorks series and once again we get to follow along with the adventures of our favorite bamboo munching hero while he continues his mission to be a dragon warrior and (in this film) to locate his birth parents so he can truly know who he is. While the movie premiere was a considerable hit with stars Angelina Jolie, Jack Black, Dennis Haysbert and Lucy Liu taking their turns on the red carpet, earlier in the week stars turned out to walk a “bamboo” carpet if you will.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, Boss of DreamWorks Animation, was feted Monday evening at the 15th annual Global Conservation International dinner as a Global Conservation Hero. Fittingly, “Kung Fu Panda 2” was the theme for the celebration. Why such an exclusive award for creating a film? Well, DreamWorks’ dedication towards the endangered Giant Panda goes beyond the pixels on screen.
In 2008, on the heels of the successful Kung Fu Panda film, DreamWorks made a superb investment in CI’s work in Sichuan, China, to help track, monitor and safeguard wild populations of endangered giant pandas. The funding for the Three-Year Panda Survival Plan served the humans in the province as well by supporting the fundamental needs of those following the devastating 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
Katzenberg received the award from CI Vice-Chairmen Harrison Ford. In accepting the award, he mentioned, “At DreamWorks Animation, we’ve become environmentally aware because we spend so much of our time trying to emulate nature. We know how many pixels are needed to make fur look realistic because the real thing is at our disposal.”
He added, “It will always be a challenge to match the beauty and splendor of our natural planet. Because so many of Conservation International projects, we can be confident that we won’t have to glimpse this splendor through emulation.”
Pandas aren’t only stars on-screen. Considering that they’re universally loved and easily recognized, they’ve become a flagship species. Based on Dr. Lu Zhi, director from the Shanshui Center for Nature & Society and among the world’s foremost panda experts, “They [pandas] are iconic, and they’ve come at represent all threatened species. Saving the panda tests our determination. If we can’t protect the panda, then what chance do all the other threatened species have?”
While the panda’s own reproductive process is challenging (the feminine ovulates only once a year), the loveable bears also deal with the destruction of the habitats and feeding grounds. And not only does the deforestation affect the giant panda it adds to climate change endangering us humans too. The main focus on consequences of environment destruction to both human and animal population is what makes CI unique – it works to build the connection between both worlds to create a stronger force in protecting Mother Earth.
This focus is apparent in the Three Year Survival Plan for the Giant Pandas. According to their website:
CI’s goal is nothing less than to halt the decline of the panda population, protect and revive the forests where they live, create mechanisms for local communities to support and benefit from conservation activities, and promote policy inovations by the Chinese government that provide better regulation of development and incentives for local protection.
Safeguarding the panda takes a comprehensive approach along with a focused strategy for success. The CI plan for pandas requires the following efforts:
1. The Giant Panda Survival Plan – this comprehensive strategy includes short- and long-term goals, reaching out as far as two hundred years. Planned achievements include safeguarding 100 % of known panda habitat, supplying better protection programs towards the reserves, developing a minimum of 12 “conservation corridors” for connecting habitats, and developing a comprehensive panda population monitoring plan.
2. The Panda Alliance – this impressive network of leading conservation groups, academics, government agencies, private corporations, and local communities will work to safeguard habitat, establish a panda guardian program, involve local communities, promote the benefits of panda conservation, and much more.
3. Key Policy Promotion – via a partnership with Peking University, CI will support the launching of a policy center to supply government and business leaders with science-based data to inform their decisions, produce solution-oriented policy research, and facilitate collaboration in conservation.
4. Inspiring panda-lovers worldwide to take action – via efficient working associations with public and private-sector partners for example McDonald’s and DreamWorks, we’ll inform the general public about the plight of the panda, and the things they can do to help.
While the few pandas left today face a challenging future, a renewed resolve for saving them provides new optimism. With the combined efforts of government, science, companies, and those that care, pandas can survive for future generations to enjoy.
So get your popcorn buttered this weekend and relish the animated adventure and keep in mind that beyond film, saving the giant panda might help save all of us!