After a baby panda is born, the mother panda will eat less, and will devote her time and energy to feeding and training the baby, which is very laborious, and thus reduces her health and life span.
At breeding centers, researchers help the mother pandas to take care of their cubs, thus helping to ensure the survival of both. Pandas in captivity can live 30 years or longer, while wild pandas usually live up to 20 years.
China is the only natural home of giant pandas, and wild giant pandas can only be found in deep forests in some parts of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu Provinces. Estimates of giant panda numbers are no more than 2,000, including about 300 in captivity.
The giant panda is an endangered species, due to loss of habitat and very low birth rate (one cub per two years). Female pandas usually can give birth to only one baby panda at a time, and newborn pandas are extremely fragile. Therefore to save the species, China has begun captive breeding programs.
There are two main captive breeding centers in China open to the public: Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and Bifengxia Giant Panda Base, both accessible from Chengdu in Sichuan Province.
You can visit a panda breeding center or even volunteer to help look after the pandas. See Giant Panda Volunteer Programs.