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Pandas’ Invade Fleet Science Center

New IMAX documentary explores how one program is trying to save pandas

Photo caption: A plethora of pandas in the new IMAX documentary "Pandas."

Photo credit: Warner Brothers

A plethora of pandas in the new IMAX documentary "Pandas."

'Pandas' Invade Fleet Science Center


Drew Fellman, producer, "Pandas"

Jake Owens, wildlife biologist, Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding


On an adorability scale of one to 10, pandas are an 11. But the new IMAX documentary "Pandas" (opening at the Fleet Science Center) looks past their fluffy appeal to the hard work that goes into saving the species.

Filmmaker Drew Fellman has worked on a number of films (such as "Island of Lemurs," "Under the Sea 3D," "Born to Be Wild") that look like wildlife documentaries. But Fellman said he is not interested in wildlife documentaries per se but rather in the people who work hard to ensure that species like pandas will be here in the future.

"Pandas are adorable, sure," Fellman said at the Fleet Science Center last week before the San Diego premiere of his documentary. "But the main attraction for us in making this movie was how rare they are and how important reintroductions are for the future of pandas."

One of the people Fellman focuses on in his new film "Pandas" is Jake Owens, a wildlife biologist working with panda reintroduction in China.

"It's difficult for us to reach the average person, especially younger people," Owens said. "But if conservation is going to work we need younger people to go into it, and we need the general public to support it. If there is no general public support, conservation won’t work at all."

And this film helps him reach the general public.

Fellman is passionate about reaching that audience with a message: "Conservation is not an abstract idea. Conservation is really hard work, and it’s something that humans do. It’s something that you get up at six o’clock in the morning and start working on, and it’s one animal at a time. So that’s something that people don’t really realize. It’s a job."

But "Pandas" does also deliver on the furry goodness of pandas as it focuses on the work Owens, and others are doing to ensure that pandas are around in the wild for the next generation to enjoy.

Fellman points out that the success of programs cannot be judged on the reintroduction of one panda into the wild but rather can only be assessed decades from now when we can see if that panda was able to survive and breed and keep the species going. That means a "Pandas" sequel could be years down the road.


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