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WWF Panda Expert Available For Comment As National Zoo's Panda Cub is Named

WASHINGTON - The head of World Wildlife Fund's panda conservation program is available to help journalists cover the naming and upcoming public debut of the baby panda at the National Zoo and to discuss the status of giant pandas in the wild.

"As panda lovers celebrate each milestone reached by the new cub at the zoo, it's an opportunity to also celebrate the giant panda's continued survival in the wild," said Karen Baragona, acting director for species conservation at WWF. "Tai Shan has become a wonderful ambassador for his wild cousins, who number as few as 1,600. We are optimistic about the outlook for wild pandas, although there is much work to do to ensure a future for them."

Baragona has managed the giant panda conservation program for WWF for the past seven years and has contributed to projects such as the landmark national survey of giant pandas announced in China in 2004, which provided the most-detailed assessment ever done of the number of pandas surviving in the wild and their habitat. Baragona also serves as an adviser to the American Zoo and Aquarium's Species Survival Plan for pandas. In 2004, she co-edited the book, "Giant Pandas: Biology and Conservation."