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Giant pandas dominate the big screen in Denver, world theaters

A giant panda introduces her cub to the wild in the movie Pandas:The Journey Home at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
A giant panda introduces her cub to the wild in the movie Pandas:The Journey Home at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Yang Dan/National Geograhic Entertainment

The call for “action” in a new film in Denver takes on another dimension. The topic of a July movie at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is good breeding, giant panda style.

The museum’s IMAX theater is one of 14 worldwide to show Pandas: The Journey Home. National Geographic Entertainment released the movie. In July 2014, it may be seen at 11 theaters in the United States, in addition to theaters in Canada, Mexico and Britain.

The Denver showing was announced in the July online edition of Pandas International, a Littleton, Colo.-based nonprofit. The movie has a strong Colorado link: It is directed by Nic Brown, a native of Vail, Colo.

National Geographic said filmmakers received unprecedented access to the Bifengxia Panda Base and the Wolong National Nature Reserve, both in China.

The film details a milestone of the center. It has reached its target number of 300 pandas after captive breeding the endangered animal for decades. The figure is considered the minimum number for sustaining the population. It now faces the release of reintroducing the captive-bred animals into the wild. Filmmakers were allowed to film the release of the pandas and to follow a group of wild pandas into their mountain habitat on the reserve.

To avoid human association and ease the animals’ transition into the wild, caregivers and film crew alike donned panda suits. To mask any human scent, the costumes were smeared with panda feces and urine.

Pandas in China are considered national treasures. Despite their status, pandas remain endangered, the nonprofit World Wildlife Fund reports. The giant panda is the rarest member of the bear family.

In the wild, they live mainly in the bamboo forests of the mountains in western China. Their diet is almost entirely bamboo. To get the nutrition to survive, they must eat between 26 to 84 pounds of bamboo each day.