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Photo © Ivan Pedretti

1st classified

Captive

Captive
by Marcus Westberg


A giant panda used for breeding sits alone in a facility in Shaanxi, China. Captive breeding of endangered species can play an important role in repopulating wild habitats, but it can also be a convenient label to hide behind, much like “green,” “renewable," or “sustainable.” In this case, though there was no doubt that the staff cared deeply for their wards, the feeling nevertheless was that the pandas were economic assets. There were no plans to prepare any of the captive-born pandas for release - all animals were being habituated to humans and used as attractions for paying visitors. To me, this image represents the juxtaposition between the intentions we express and the reality on the ground: a wild animal kept in a cage in the name of conservation.