How do you count the number of pandas in China?

Two words: panda poop.

China announced Monday that it is training 70 panda trackers to conduct the first official count of the endangered animals in 10 years.

“The trackers will collect panda droppings for DNA analysis, which will allow zoologists to track individual pandas and accurately estimate the number of pandas living in the wild,” wildlife official Chen Youping told Reuters News Service.

Giant panda cubs play at the Bifengxia panda breeding centre in Ya'an, Sichuan province. (CHINA DAILY/REUTERS)

The last census counted 1,596 wild pandas in China. At one point, pandas were almost extinct in the wild, and they still face threats to their natural habitat.

Meanwhile closer to home, keepers at the National Zoo are still hoping that the official count of pandas there will soon go from two to three. Mei Xiang continues to act as if she might have a baby soon, but zookeepers can’t tell for sure.

Read more KidsPost online and in Sunday’s Washington Post.