Giant Panda + Iron Man + Tai Chi = Iron Panda, the superhero China’s endangered panda population deserves and needs. He’s also the work of Beijing-based artist Bi Heng. Iron Panda measures 9 meters (29.5 feet) high and 7 meters (~23 feet) wide and he’s currently on display in Shenyang, the largest city in China’s northeastern Liaoning province.
Heng’s Iron Panda is a combination of the Giant panda’s symbolism as a Chinese national treasure and a victim of humanity’s impact upon the natural world, Iron Man, a superhero representing extraordinary technological advancements, and the Chinese martial art of Tai Chi. He view these three combined elements as a statement of how the environment is suffering for the sake of advancing technology and a message that there should be a better relationship between industrial development and the natural world in order to preserve and protect nature rather than destroy it.
The giant panda is a so-called conservation reliant vulnerable species. For many years the panda was considered endangered, but in March 2015, the wild giant panda population increased by 268, or 16.8%, totaling to 1,864 individuals. In 2016, the IUCN reclassified the species from “endangered” to “vulnerable”. That’s good news, but the giant panda population is still far from healthy.
Habitat loss and extremely poor reproductive skills are the main reasons the panda is struggling. A fortune is being spent every year to save the panda, and it’s only because of the incredible cuteness factor of this charismatic animal that the conservation efforts have been successful.
Although giant pandas spend most of the day eating and sleeping, they love to climb and play. Here a year-old cub explores the treetops in an enclosure at the Wolong center of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, where captive-bred pandas are trained to live in the wild. If the animal passes tests to gauge its survival skills and instincts, it will be released into the mountains.By Ami Vitale