Workers at an animal research centre dressed up like pandas to move a mother panda and her son.

Workers in Wolong, southwest China’s Sichuan Province, said this was to maintain an intimate relationship with the pandas and make them feel “safe”.

Baby panda Tao Tao was born in 2010 and has never seen a human face because keepers always dress in panda suits while around him.

When he was six months old he and his mother Cao Cao were moved into a large mountainous area for intensive wild habitat training. With that proving successful, the pair have now been moved to an even wilder area where they have more freedom.

Keepers hope that Tao Tao will be able to be released fully into the wild later this year.

When Tao Tao was born in August 2010 it marked the first time a captive-raised panda had delivered a cub in a near-wild environment. Over the last few years he has been learning all the behaviours pandas need in the wild, such as walking, climbing trees and looking for food.

Following the success of the program there are now plans to release six more pregnant female pandas into semi wild enclosures.                                 –WO