Is Breeding Pandas in Captivity Worth It?
Some say it boosts awareness; others think money should be spent elsewhere.
Possibly as few as 1,600 giant pandas still roam the mountainous forests of central China, and more than 300 live in captivity in various facilities around the globe. On Friday, Washington, D.C.'s National Zoo welcomed the most recent arrival to the captive population—a healthy infant born to Mei Xiang.
But is the considerable effort and millions of dollars put into breeding the animals in captivity really worth it? (Read more about the costs of breeding pandas in National Geographic magazine.)
Some conservationists say yes, claiming public "pandamonium" can translate to real conservation action. But others argue that the money could be better spent on other things, such as preserving threatened habitat.
"Everyone is enormously excited about baby pandas because they