The pandas as a species are no longer on the verge of extinction, although they remain highly vulnerable, according to Chinese officials.
Efforts to preserve the charming chubby finally paid off
The threat status of the panda population has been downgraded as the number in the wild finally reaches 1,800. Experts say the country has managed to save its iconic animal thanks to long-term conservation efforts, including expanding its habitat.
China considers pandas to be a national treasure, but also "lent" them to other countries as diplomatic tools. The new classification emerged years after the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had already removed the animal from its endangered species list and re-assigned Vulnerable status in 2016.
However, at the time, Chinese officials challenged the decision, saying it could mislead people into believing that government efforts to conserve the rare animal were waning.
The latest announcement from China's Ministry of the Environment is the first time that an animal has changed its status on the state's own endangered species list, which uses standards similar to those of the Switzerland-based IUCN.
Chinese social media users were delighted with the news, saying it was "proof" that the conservation effort was worth it.
“This is the result of many years of hard work. All conservationists are great!”- wrote one of the users of Weibo.