Think of an image that is synonymous with China and odds are that you will think of the panda.
Having visited China many times, there is no doubt in my mind that the panda is revered there.
“If the Chinese have any respect for any animal, it is certainly the panda.”
The natural home of the panda is the mountains around Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi Provinces, a mountainous region near the foothills of the Himalayas to the east of the Tibetan Plateau, where the bamboo that forms the major part of the panda diet flourishes.
The city of Chengdu, which is the capital of Sichuan Province, is one of the best places to go to see pandas.
“If you visit the Panda Research Base there you will not only be able to see a multitude of pandas but, for a hefty payment, perhaps even be allowed to have your photo whilst holding one.
The Panda Research Base was established in Chengdu in 1987 when it had just six giant pandas that had been moved there from the wild. Pandas are an endangered species, and the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, which is its full name, was established to conduct research into the life of pandas and to initiate a panda breeding programme in order to help sustain the species as it was dwindling in the wild.
They must be doing something right there as the number of pandas now held at the research base has increased to 83, mostly as a result of their breeding programme as they haven’t taken any pandas from the wild in at least 20 years.
Tourists are encouraged to visit the panda base, and it’s not even all that difficult to find as its address in 26 Panda St, Northern Suburbs, Chengdu.
The Chengdu Panda Research base is open daily from 8am until 6pm and it is best to get there early to avoid the crowds. Also, pandas tend to be most active in the mornings and late afternoons, and they are much more interesting to view when they are moving around.
“Like many other creatures which rely on a monotonous, low energy diet pandas can spend a lot of time during the day sleeping.”
The Panda Research Base is a non-profit organisation, and as such they do need funds to survive and to continue with their good work. That is why they charge entrance fees and a hefty fee if you wish to have your photo taken whilst holding a panda. However, that money is put to good use, and the results of the excellent research and breeding programme are in evidence when you visit.