Southern China and Tibet: Day 12 – Panda Breeding Research Centre and Goodbye to China

0900: It’s our last day in China. Today, we are visiting the world famous Chengdu Panda Breeding Research centre. It is a relatively early start, because according to our tour guide, if you want to see Pandas at their most active, you need to visit them in the morning.

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1000: Despite having got here by 10 a.m., the centre is already full of tourists. Although according to our guide, it could be a lot busier.

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The centre is laid in a beautiful park setting, with with Panda enclosures scattered around. There is no set route to take, but there are maps indicating where everything is, so you can find your own way around.  As well as Giant Pandas, the centre is also home to Red Pandas, Peacocks, Swans, and numerous insects.

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It wasn’t long before we saw our first Giant Pandas. BUT they were all asleep. They gad taken their breakfast early, and returned to their second favourite activity – sleeping.

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The Chengdu Panda Base opened in 1987 with 6 Giant Pandas. Today it has over 60 Pandas. This is one of the most well known Panda breeding centres in the World. As well as providing a home to dozens of Pandas, the centre also does a lot of conservation work, aimed at safe guarding the future of these rare creatures. They have many education programmes and exchange programmes with zoos around the World.

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Amongst the enclosures there are many education points, ranging from information boards about individual Pandas who reside there, to general information to motivational quotes.

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There’s also a multimedia centre with videos about the life of a Panda. A few interesting things I found about being a Panda:

  • Baby Pandas, (less than 1 year old) are called Yearlings.
  • They only start eating Bamboo when they are 1 year old. They depend on their mother’s milk in the first year. They gain about 100 grams in weight per day in the first year.
  • Much like humans, Pandas have two sets of teeth in their lifetime.
  • Pandas are born completely white. Their black marking start to appear one to two weeks after birth.

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After a walking around for a while, we found a couple of young Pandas who were too excited to sleep, as well as some baby Pandas

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The park is beautiful has a lake, and many flowers.

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We also saw one of the red Pandas at the centre; a smaller, but no less cute version of there Giant cousin.

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The centre also has a museum, several cafes and restaurants (Panda themed of course), a Park bus, and a number of gift shops with Panda merchandise.

1300: After visiting the Pandas, we returned to the hotel. We had a few hours to spare till our flight, so we decided to explore the market and shops around the Buddha-Zen hotel.

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After a last cup of green tea in the hotel roof garden, it was time to say good bye to China.

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So that was the end of my second trip to China. It was very different from the first, where we got to see three of China’s biggest cities. This trip is was all about rural China, its beauty and nature – we saw the Karst mountains of Yangshuo, one of best musical performances in the World, rice terraces of Longji, explored Lhasa, Gyantse and Shigatse, visited the largest Buddha statue in the world, and finally the Panda base in Chengdu.

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