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The Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base (or Chengdu Panda Base for short) specializes in baby pandas and their care. It's one of the most popular destinations for foreign travelers. And it's a must-go place when you go to Chengdu.
Chengdu Panda Base not only takes care of breeding pandas, but also focuses on providing interactive activities that teach people about pandas and their protection. Besides cute giant pandas, there are also red pandas, black swans, and peacocks in the base.
It’s a research center, so, unlike a zoo, it does not focus on displaying the animals. Sometimes the giant pandas are all sleeping indoors, so that you can’t see any of them eating, playing, or climbing outside.
Giant pandas like cool weather. At cool times, giant pandas will play outside. But in summer time, pandas are likely to stay indoors to avoid the summer heat (over 26˚C or 79°F).
If you are visiting in hot summer time (June, July, August) and don’t see any pandas outside, you are suggested to go to the giant panda enclosures and delivery houses to see giant pandas indoors.
The panda base opens from 7:30am to 6:00pm. The best time to visit is in the morning, especially during feeding time between 8:30 and 10:00. After that, it's likely that the pandas will be indulging in their favorite pastime: sleeping!
The trees and bamboos are tall and can shade you from the summer heat. You may feel cool when walking around in the morning.
If you are visiting the base in cool weather, you are more likely to see giant pandas in the outdoor enclosures or giant pandas’ house’s backyards.
You don’t need a route map or guide: you can easily find out where the giant pandas are by following the noise of visitors. It will be crowded and quite noisy wherever there is a panda walking, climbing, eating bamboo, or even doing nothing but sleeping on a tree.
When you hear a sudden loud noise, don’t miss it. Go and see what has happened. Maybe it’s a naughty panda just fallen from a tree, or the "panda daddy" (panda keeper) is feeding them.
It’s easy to track giant panda activity by following other people. The direction boards inside the base show you the way to find giant pandas clearly.
However, you might be at quite a distance from the pandas, and separated by fences. So if you want to take some good feature photos with high resolution, bring your long zoom lens.
Every enclosure has sign board to tell visitors something about the pandas that live inside. The introductions to the giant pandas are in English, Japanese, and Chinese. You can read the panda’s birthday, name, and his/her characteristics.
Pandas usually give birth in August. Thus visitors can see new-born pandas or panda babies in August and September. If you are visiting the base in this period, don’t forget to see the pink or fluffy panda babies in Moonlight Delivery House and Sunshine Nursery house.
You can take photos of new-born pandas, but no flash use is allowed. If there are no new-born pandas to see, you can always go to the kindergarten to see young active pandas.
The Giant Panda Museum at the base is the world's only museum that focuses entirely on the giant panda. You can learn a lot about this at-risk animal in the museum.
The Giant Panda Museum houses giant panda specimens, fossils, and dissected pandas.
Specimens of panda food are displayed, and the museum also houses many large true-to-life exhibits of giant pandas in their natural environment in ancient times and in their present wild habitats. These true-to-life exhibits cover an area of about 300 square meters.
The museum educates visitors about giant pandas’ evolutionary history, their ancient and present distribution in the wild, and their current situation as a vulnerable species, as well as on the present purpose and focus of scientific research.
Visitors will see that the Chinese government is making a concerted effort both to protect this at-risk animal and its habitat, and to promote public awareness and appreciation of this animal that is beloved by people all over the world.
There is a post office inside Chengdu Panda Base. You can send a lovely panda postcard to friends or family …or yourself. The postcards will be stamped with a cute panda postmark.
From Chengdu: About 10 kilometers (6 miles), it takes about 40 minutes by car.
There are four panda bases in and around Chengdu, and two provide volunteer programs. You can take care of giant pandas by cleaning their enclosures, making their meals, etc. like panda base staff, while learning about panda preservation.
Continue to read Everything You Want to Know about Giant Pandas
Lynne and Andy Buddin are China Highlights two-time customers from the UK. Below is an account of their visit in August 2014 to Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base, told by Lynne.
Anyway, spent most of the day sleeping, and preparing to meet a real life Giant Panda at Chengdu. SOOOO EXCITED!! All three of us, as our guide "Phoebe" was coming in with us, we did a deal, as so many times we try a once in a lifetime thing, either the weather, or the availability is not good but Phoebe really wanted to cuddle a panda too, and we figured if we had 3 cameras that was better than one!
There has been quite a lot of work done in the sanctuary since 2012, new frontage, better red panda enclosure, in which they are sometimes known to walk on the boardwalk with you, as they have holes in the fencing since they discovered they were crawling under it anyway!
The Pandas we saw all tiny and wrapped in blankets in a cot, were now nearly 2 and young infants, no longer small enough to cuddle but big enough to maul a person. Nice to see the progress. In the nursery this time a 2-week-old blind pink rat, with a little hair and just about black showing, two 3-month-old fluffy bundles with their eyes shut, bumbling about the incubator (still we are told being manually evacuated of faeces, not a glamorous job). Lastly two 2-month-olds who look proper. We queued 3 times for that as they move you on.
Then the BEST, we saw a video of u-tube clips of pandas doing what pandas do, then waited while they chased one year old babies round their cage to catch them. It seemed they were not keen to come, either that or the keepers were milking all the cheers. We went to a private yard, where they had a large driftwood bench, that they plonked a 25kgs, one year old on, we sat down in turn, besides him and stroked his head or belly, while he was fed the best bamboo tips dunked in honey, to bribe him to stay put.
It was amazing to be so close, a brilliant experience and it lasted a bit longer than we were told. Got some great photos but we had to wear gloves and blue disposable aprons, maybe Pandas don't like to be upstaged. Maybe we shouldn't do this but heah, both twin brothers we saw were loving the honey and the money goes to preservation and protection of the 2000 that are left in the wild.
See more information on giant panda volunteer programs.
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