Panda Breeding Centre
Trip Start Aug 26, 2009
146Trip End Ongoing
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The main attraction inChengdu has to be the panda research base. There are three places to
visit panads in Chengdu, the first is a nature reserve that was hit by an earthquake two years ago, alot of the pandas were moved to a park further south, we were going to visit this reserve which is two hours from Chengdu as we wanted to view the creatures in the wild so to speak, not in a zoo like area. But the fact that it is two hours away, on a much more expensive bus service, coupled with the fact that we might not even see a panda, we decided to visit the giant panda breeding research base, where they investigate why these huge mammals are so sexually reluctant. Visiting the panda research center we got to use our 'panda card' and got in for free, it would of cost us 60 yuan each. Bus there and back was Y2 each way.
We were advised to get to the pandas as early as possible as feeding was at 8.30 which was the
best time to see the pandas as they are most active
We got up at 6.00 the earliest we have been up in 3 weeks to get the early bus, unfortunately we did not make it in time as there was a lot of traffic getting to the bus station, After sitting on bus 02 for 90 minutes, in more rush hour traffic, we arrived at the panda center, I was very excited. I have never seen a panda before, we were deciding how much we would be prepared to spend on holding a panda if the opportunity had arisen, fortunately it didn't i, was informed they can charge up to Y1000 for a minute of holding.
The place more than exceeded our expectations, sure it had some zoo like areas for feeding and washing etc, but all of the panads we saw were out in big areas of vegetation, forest and mad made wooden play areas which they played on in every area, putting on shows for all the admiring tourists, they seemed truly happy.
We were both amazed at the sight of the pandas, it is crazy to see them. They were different
housing complex and grounds for the different ages, adult, giant, sub-adult, kinder garden, nursery and the red pandas
going extinct is of far graver concern.
The pandas love to put on a show, each seperate enclosure had its own character. The nursery
was full of incubation units, ranging from weeks old to a few months. They are so cute to see, being fed and rolling around in there units. they are born bold and blind, and very much dependent on there mother for a good few months, the hair grows after a few weeks but is all
white, they only get their black parts after month or more.
Next was the kinder garden these range from 3-4 months up to 1.5 years. There were six pandas that we could see on one climbing frame. Three were sound asleep and the other three were play fighting with each other, pushing each other around, one was on a platform and another
underneath, he was climbing up and biting the others head and pulling him off the ledge he was on, it was very funny
Now at the sub-adult enclosure. All i can stay, so much for being inactive past 10:00, if they weren't sat there chomping at bamboo and dropping the remains all over there belly while laying on there back. They were showing of on the swings and other climbing apparatus. They are said to eat for 14 hours a day as they get such little nutrients from the bamboo stem, shoot and leaf. As they are carnivores their stomachs cant digest plant fibre, to they only get 2% of the available nutrition. Hence why they have to eat 40kgs a day and live very docile lifestyles.
It is to be believed there are 60 pandas in this center, and they hope it to keep in growing. They aim to have triple the amount of hectares in years to come to 300.
We watched a film about the breeding center and the nature of pandas. Watching this film
makes you understand why they are helping the pandas breed, basically they don't like to mate, they have to be coaxed into it, or artificially inseminated. As they breed so little in the wild, they
don't have great maternal skills, often kicking and throwing the new born after delivery, at this point the staff intervene and take the new cub away to safety.
Over all this has probably been the best thing we have done in china so far, we really enjoyed it!!!