Men in bear costumes release pandas into wild

Giant panda Cao Cao and its cub were released into the Wolong Nature Reserve in China for the first time on Sunday.

In an extremely delicate operation, their handlers wore bear costumes to minimise the impact of human contact.

The bears will be monitored on a regular basis to ensure they have best chance of survival in the wild. Breeding experts will keep a distance from their new home, watching their daily activities through hidden cameras.

Fences around the area are specially-designed to ensure the pandas’ safety from other animals and to prevent them from escaping.

China’s giant panda training project suffered a major setback in 2007 when Xiang Xiang, a five-year-old male, was found dead in a remote part of the Wolong Nature Reserve. Xiang Xiang was released into the wild in April 2006 after nearly three years of training.