BBC nature host Chris Packham has questioned whether pandas deserve to survive, as they're not bright and aren't very good at reproduction. In the clip at left, Good Morning America anchors force Chris Cuomo to declare he's staunchly anti-panda killing.
Being able to appeal to human sentimentality is every bit an evolutionary edge as anything else. Some animals have speed, others deadly venom, the giant panda has adorableness. Underestimate that quality at your peril. Their ability to reproduce atrophied, their ability to find food sucks, but being so fucking cute alone wins them the evolutionary lottery.
Now as to whether there's intrinsic value to the survival of the species. I'd argue that absolutely, yes. Pandas make most people go "d'awwww". They elicit the warm fuzzies in people. That's a completely worthwhile service.