Thursday, December 07, 2000

Tristate man has recipe to keep pandas thriving

By Mike Pulfer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Mark Edwards once had 70 animals under his care at his home in Warren County. Now, the chief nutritionist at the San Diego Zoo cares for more than 8,000 animals and is being credited with developing an infant formula that may save the endangered panda.

        That's good news for Mei Xiang (pronounced May Shone) and Tian Tian (pronounced Tee-yen Tee-yen), who arrived at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., Wednesday from the Wolong Nature Reserve and Captive Breeding Center in China. The zoo plans to breed the pandas and captive panda cubs have a high death rate.

[photo] Mark Edwards watches a panda at the Wolong Nature Reserve in China.
(San Diego Zoo photo)
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        Mr. Edwards developed the panda cub formula used at Wolong for the last two years. He combined the popular human formula Enfamil and a puppy formula called Esbilac.

        From 1964 to 1997, only 90 of 133 litters of panda cubs born in captivity lived to be a month old. Since Mr. Edwards introduced his formula at Wolong, 18 of 20 newborns have thrived over two breeding seasons.

        “Before, more babies died than lived,” said Mr. Edwards.”

        Mr. Edwards, 35, is a 1983 graduate of Franklin High School and a 1987 graduate of Miami University, Oxford.

        His older brother David, who owns and operates Edwards Furniture Co. of Franklin, said he is constantly surprised to find his brother on television or radio.

        “We always get mad at him because he never tells us when he's going to be on,” David Edwards said. “We'll be driving along in the car, and, the next thing you know, my brother's on the radio.”

        Mark always knew what he wanted to do and now has excelled to be is one of a few people in the world with his skills and expertise, his brother said. “There are six of him in the world.”

       USA Today contributed to this report.


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