Pandas (2018) Movie Script

This is a story about connections
between people,
between cultures,
even between animals.
For a determined panda expert like
Ho Ron,
those connections can be full
of surprises.
Hou Rong is the Director of Research
at the Chengdu Panda Base
in China's Sichuan province.
She's responsible for
the country's largest population
These cubs are just two months old.
Hou Rong and her colleagues
used new techniques -
- that led to the birth
of over 200 baby pandas.
I've dedicated my life
to the conservation of giant pandas.
A healthy captive population
can help save wild pandas -
- from extinction.
For such a famous animal,
very little is actually known
about wild pandas.
Giant pandas are the oldest -
- and most endangered species
of all living bears.
They once roamed across much of
ancient China.
For thousands of years kingdoms
and dynasties rose and tumbled.
And people transformed the landscape -
- for their own use.
The loss of their habitat pushed pandas
higher and higher into these mountains.
Today, there are fewer than 2,000
giant pandas in the wild.
Scattered in small groups
and isolated from each other -
- by rugged terrain and human development.
The lack of genetic diversity
is an added danger
Hou Rong hopes her cubs can help -
- increase the wild population
and expand their gene pool.
They've been carefully bred -
- for a special mission,
to be a panda force -
Hou Rong's dream is to start
the next phase of her program -
- and release some of
these cubs into the wild.
The cubs' mothers were also born
at the Panda Base.
They don't have the experience
to help them go wild.
So Hou Rong will look elsewhere for help.
Her search will lead her across the world -
- to the small American town
of Lyme, New Hampshire.
And the home of Papa Bear.
Yeah, what a good boy.
What a good boy. Yeah.
Ben Kilham takes in
orphaned black bear cubs -
- and returns them to the wild.
Black bears are the most common
of all bear species.
But each one has its own personality.
These little orphans
are only ten weeks old.
You wanna climb out, you wanna
come up and see me.
Yeah, that wasn't so hard, was it?
At this age, they sleep most of the day.
But when they're hungry,
they turn into little monsters.
[Bell] Ben and his family provide
constant care and affection.
If you think having kids is hard,
Come on guys, let's go for a walk.
Once spring arrives,
the cubs move out of the house -
- and Ben takes them
for long walks in the woods.
Come on, guys.
Let's go up the pond. Come on.
When I was a boy I had trouble
learning in school.
As I grew up I realized I just had
a different way of seeing the world.
I could read nature the way other
people read books.
Do you wanna go for a swim?
Ben's method is simple.
Build trust,
then provide security
and opportunity for the cubs to explore.
I don't teach bears
how to be bears.
The knowledge is already inside them.
Come on, let's go home.
Next summer,
this little troupe will break up.
And the bears will be returned to
the forests of New England.
Ben has successfully
released over 150 bears.
Hou Rong was introduced to Ben -
- by her friends at
the Global Cause Foundation.
She came to New Hampshire to see -
- if he and his black bears
could help her pandas.
Watch out, guys, watch out.
By your experiments, which
age is better to use this method?
Well, the younger ones are the only ones
we can do the method with.
- Okay.
- Of walking that would be comparable -
- to what we could do with pandas.
- Mmm-hmm.
- And because all of your pandas,
they don't have the experience
with their mothers either.
Yes. Yeah.
The best model for Hou Rong's pandas -
- is a bear named Squirty.
Squirty was one of the first cubs
I ever raised.
She was a tiny little thing.
But she had a big, bossy personality.
Ben brings Hou Rong to his
study site to demonstrate -
- how the trust you develop
with young bears -
- can last long after they go wild.
Squirty is a wild bear now.
She's 22 years old.
And has raised over 20 of her own cubs.
Hi, Squirty.
Hi, Squirty.
Yeah, good girl.
Squirty lets me put a tracking
collar around her neck.
But I have to be careful.
Ben and Squirty have changed
each other's lives.
He gave her the chance to thrive
and in return, she's been his guide -
- into the world of wild black bears.
Ben's experience with Squirty -
- guided his work
with all the bears that followed.
Oh, wow. You gonna let us come in? Huh?
- Hi, guys.
- Hi, guys.
The cubs are comfortable around Ben.
But not strangers.
Hi, there. Hi, there.
Can I play hide-and-seek with you?
Hi, there.
Hi, there.
Hi, there. Yeah.
What a pretty girl.
What a pretty girl.
Hi, guys, I remember all you guys.
I was touched by Ben
and his love for the bears.
They accept him like he's also a bear.
That's a bluff charge, but it's not
a really highly emotional bluff charge.
The intensity of the bluff charge shows
the emotion of the bear.
At first, I was skeptical of Ben's method.
Once I saw it with my own eyes,
I knew it was the best
way to help our pandas.
Hou Rong invites Ben to collaborate.
They'll combine his experience -
- and her knowledge to chart
a new way forward.
Pandas inspire a frenzy
of adoration around the world -
- and especially at home in China.
They are the King Kong of cute.
And it takes a special person
Ben and Hou Rong selected Jake Owens,
an American biologist, to move to China
Playtime is an essential part.
It's how young animals bond
and a relationship formed now -
The next scientist to join the team -
- was Bi Wen Lei.
He's from a small village
in Inner Mongolia.
His friends call him Xiao Bi.
Yeah, right, it's a noodle one.
We can try.
Working with giant pandas is my dream.
And I can't wait to get started.
- This one?
- That one, yeah.
Introducing any captive animal
to the wild is risky.
The team's first step
is to pick the right panda.
We assess the cubs for qualities
that will help them survive in the wild.
Climbing ability,
and courage.
We need cubs that will follow,
so we can take them
for walks in the forest.
Just like Ben.
Following is good.
- Biting, not so much.
- My head.
Ooh, ow!
Even little pandas bite hard.
Their jaws are built to crush bamboo.
Ah, you got my neck.
Wild pandas must survive cold winters.
So we brought in snow
to see how they respond.
You never know what surprises
they'll encounter in the wild.
And in the battle of panda versus snowman,
there can be only one winner.
Hey, buddy.
The team settled on
a little cub called Qian Qian Qian Qian.
She's about to trade
the comforts of Panda Base
Hey! Hey!
As a scientist,
I usually just observe animals.
Now my role is to make friends
with a panda -
- and head out together
on a new adventure.
The team brings Qian Qian
to Panda Valley -
- where she can begin training
for her new life.
Come out and play with us.
She does play. Who's that?
Now Qian Qian is about to
experience nature -
- for the very first time.
Pandas explore with their nose,
investigating every new scent.
There's a whole new world to discover -
- and this is just the beginning.
With every step,
Qian Qian is discovering
her true identity.
And learning what it's like
to be a real panda.
Come on. Let's go.
There you are.
You found a nice little spot, huh?
You found a nice little spot.
One year later,
Qian Qian is almost two years old -
- and getting hard to handle.
She already weighs 120 pounds.
So playtime is no game.
Jujitsu is really similar to
wrestling with a panda.
It's all about weight and leverage.
There she is. What?
Qian Qian has outgrown
this phase of her life.
And it's time for her
to climb a real mountain.
Qian Qian moves with Jake
and Xiao Bi to a new home -
- at the Liziping Nature Reserve.
Here Qian Qian will live in
a 50-acre enclosure
while she adapts to the wild environment.
Liziping is real panda habitat -
- full of natural bamboo.
Wild pandas live in the mountains
just beyond the fence.
For the first few days,
Jake escorts Qian Qian
around the enclosure -
- so she can explore her new home.
In exchange for small pieces of apple,
Qian Qian lets Jake and Xiao Bi
adjust her GPS collar.
The collar will be their lifeline
to Qian Qian -
- once she goes wild.
You're okay. It's okay. Come on.
It's just a collar.
Giant pandas have developed
a special feature.
A wrist bone that acts like a thumb -
- to help them hold bamboo.
Qian Qian needs to eat over 50 pounds
of bamboo each day.
Oh, my God. That's like a ball.
Right. Come on.
Some people say pandas are lazy.
The truth?
They're just masters of energy efficiency.
You're right.
During our time together,
Xiao Bi has become
an excellent field biologist.
What we are doing now,
you know how to say in Chinese?
When my work is done here,
I hope he runs this project
for many years.
Our relationship with Qian Qian
is changing.
She's more independent -
- and that's good.
A few months later Qian Qian
She's ready for a world without fences.
After two years together
the big day arrives.
Jake leads Qian Qian out into
the wild for the very first time.
The safety of the enclosure
was now behind her.
Jake and Xiao Bi followed Qian Qian
every day.
She led them through dense bamboo,
climbing higher
and higher up the mountain -
- into prime panda habitat.
She was in bamboo heaven.
Have you seen Qian Qian?
Here. Look.
Three months later,
Qian Qian is still thriving in the wild.
So Jake prepares for a rare trip home
to see his family in America.
I was home when I received
the worst possible news.
An alert from Qian Qian's collar.
She hadn't moved in 24 hours.
I felt sick.
I was so far away at the moment
she needed me most.
Xiao Bi and Hou Rong
headed outwith a search party.
They hacked their way through
dense forest for two days and nights.
The signal led them to a towering tree.
Xiao Bi is terrified of heights.
But he climbed all the way to the top.
[Qian Qian. Come on, Qian Qian.
Qian Qian was injured,
but alive.
Come on, Qian Qian.
She was scared and dehydrated.
Xiao Bi gave her water
mixed with medicine and honey.
After five days,
she felt safe enough to climb down.
Come on, Qian.
Good girl.
She had bite wounds
that became infected.
Qian Qian trusted Xiao Bi -
- and he saved her life.
When I finally got there I was shocked.
She was so skinny.
She wouldn't leave my side.
Once she was strong enough to travel,
Qian Qian was sedated and carried out.
She's doing all right, she's good.
I was so relieved she survived.
There we go.
Good girl, Qian Qian.
How's Qian Qian doing?
She's better. She's gained back
almost 20 pounds now.
That relationship that you
and Xiao Bi have with her -
- made all the difference.
It made it possible to get her
and bring her back from the wild.
As Qian Qian recovers,
the challenge now -
- is to move forward.
We all face adversity.
Humans and animals alike.
She still remembers you.
What's important is how we respond.
Do we give up?
Or do we get stronger?
And sometimes she climbs
some big trees for fun,
for interesting...
so she's doing great there.
So she likes having you around,
she responds to you?
We are more committed than ever -
New cubs are born
at Panda Base every year.
And some will follow in
Qian Qian's footsteps.
We'll keep working to give them
the future they deserve.
Qian Qian has changed.
- She's more alert.
- Okay, okay, you're okay.
More wary.
She's more prepared for
any danger she'll encounter.
When Qian Qian returns to the wild,
she'll enter an environment
that's changing for the better -
- in one important way.
China is creating a new
giant panda national park -
- to connect the fragmented habitats -
- and link the isolated panda groups.
There you go.
One day, Qian Qian may be
as successful as Squirty.
When she's ready,
she'll take us all into
the world of wild pandas.
It's up to her to take the next step.
And if she ever needs help again,
whether it's in five years or 20,
we'll be there.