Giant pandas were recently removed from the endangered species list – now they're trying to use their fame (and cuteness) to save other animals. 

Two baby panda brothers – Qiqi (translation: "beginning") and Diandian (translation: "moment”) –are the first Animal Ambassadors for the Global Goals. They were born last year at the Chengdu Panda Base in China and after thousands of fans proposed names, they received their names a few weeks ago at the Social Good Summit. 

Qiqi and Diandian will serve as symbols of resilience– beautiful, bamboo-chewing animals that mark the resurgence of a species.

Read More: Pandas Are Off the Endangered List, But Eastern Gorillas Are Added

They also serve as symbols of all that is at risk in the natural world, including pandas. As climate change and reckless development continue around the world, nearly all environments are endangered in one way or another. According to the UN, the pandas represent Global Goal 15, which emphasizes the importance of "protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managing forests, combating desertification, and halting biodiversity loss."

20-09-16panda-michelle.jpgImage: UNDP

Man-made climate change threatens to eliminate 20% to 50% of all the species on Earth as ecosystems change in drastic ways.

For more than 20 years, pandas were considered endangered. During this time, a concerted effort by the Chinese government and conservationists stopped the two main causes of their disapperance: poaching and habitat loss. Today, panda poaching is rare and they have large, protected habitats to thrive in. 

Not all animals are so lucky.

Read More: This Is the First Animal to Go Extinct From Climate Change

Many animals are rapidly disappearing without any dramatic calls to action. 

Even when dramatic calls to action are made – as has been done for elephants – the drivers of extinction can seem indomitable. 

In the years ahead, all animals deserve to be protected just like pandas. Qiqi and Diandian may not be able to pull the levers of government, but they surely know how to win the hearts of people who can. 


Defend the Planet

These 2 Cuddly Pandas Are Trying to Save the World

By Joe McCarthy