Researchers in China plan to send pregnant pandas bred in captivity into the semi-wilderness in an effort to introduce their cubs to a natural environment.

Zhang Hemin, head of the Wolong panda reserve in China’s province of Sichuan, told the Telegraph that one or two pregnant pandas would be released into a semiwild area by the end of the year.

“The pandas will give birth in this semiwild environment and teach their cubs how to forage for food and survive in the wild,” said Zhang.

The transitional period will last about two years, and the panda cubs will then be released into wild mountain forests outside the enclosed zone. Six pregnant pandas have been shortlisted for the task, and one or two of them will soon be chosen based on their health, temperament and survival skills.

Zhang said that veterinarians and other workers who enter the initial enclosed zone will have to meld into the environment to help keep it as wild an experience for the pandas as possible.

Zoo workers and vets who enter the zone will disguise themselves as pandas by donning a black-and-white fur coat and crawling on the ground.”