Back to panda school in China

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As millions of children prepare to return to school after the summer break, these pandas in Chengdu will be as well.

The so-called "Panda school" has just opened at the Chengdu Panda Base in the south-western province of Sichuan.

The pandas will play with weighing scales and climb trees as part of their curriculum.

More than 17,000 people from around the world have entered a contest to become a panda keeper here for a month. The keepers will witness the birth of baby pandas and trek in the mountains around Chengdu, Sichuan's capital, to study wild pandas.

The Chengdu Panda Base was founded in 1987 and is a non-profit research and breeding facility. It first opened with just six giant pandas that were rescued from the wild but now has over 50.

According to official reports, there are just 1,600 pandas left in the wild and nearly 300 others are in captive-bred programmes worldwide, mainly in China.

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