Red pandas are an anomaly among Asian animals: they have long, fluffy striped tails like a raccoon and faces that resemble a giant panda, but they clean themselves like a cat. Their species name in Latin is "Ailurus fulgent" which translates as "shining cat".
Red pandas are found from India to China and south to Burma. In China, they live mainly in the southwestern provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan, as well as Tibet. The red panda has been found as far east as Shaanxi Province. Though not native to North America, fossil remains have even been found in Tennessee.
FAQs about Visiting Giant Pandas
1. When is the best time to see the pandas?
The following is the daily schedule of an adult panda. It is best to visit them during their meal times or play times. Early in the morning before 9 o’clock is a very suitable time, when pandas come out to eat.
- 12:00 am – 2:00 am rest
- 2:00 am – 7:40 am breakfast
- 7:40 am – 10:30 am morning break
- 10:30 am – 11:00 am play time
- 11:00 am – 12:00 am lunch
- 12:00 am – 2:30 pm noon break
- 2:30 pm – 9:00 pm supper
- 9:00 pm – 12:00 pm night sleep
2. Where can I see giant pandas in China?
China is the only remaining natural home of giant pandas, most of which live in Sichuan Province, Southwest China. Bifengxia Giant Panda Base and Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding are the best places to see the pandas.
There are also giant pandas in zoos in various places around China, such as Beijing Zoo in Beijing, Shanghai Zoo in Shanghai, Chongqing Zoo in Chongqing, Seven-Star Park Zoo in Guilin, Ocean Park in Hong Kong, and Taipei Zoo in Taiwan. Read top places to see giant pandas in China.
3. Are there any programs where I can take care of the pandas?
Yes, there are volunteer programs at Bifengxia Giant Panda Base. During the program, participants can work with skilled panda keepers to take care of the pandas. See more at Volunteer Programs.
4. What are the differences between Bifengxia Giant Panda Base and Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding?
Both are very good places to see the pandas.
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is located almost in the city center, and it is more professionally run and controlled.
Bifengxia Giant Panda Base is about 2 hours drive from the city center. It has more pandas, and you will get to see pandas more in their natural habitat than the one in Chengdu. There are volunteer programs at Bifengxia Giant Panda Base.
For tourists who stay for a few days in Chengdu, it is suggested that you see the pandas at Bifengxia Giant Panda Base, and also take part in their volunteer program. For tourists with less time, going to see the pandas in the Research Base near the city center would be more convenient.
5. What should I know while visiting or taking care of the pandas?
It’s important for the pandas to have a quiet environment. Please see the following tips:
- Please do not make noises or sudden movements that might startle the pandas.
- Please do not approach or throw food to the pandas, unless the panda keeper tells you to do so. Otherwise it might disturb the panda’s eating regime and cause them to become sick.
- Follow the panda keeper’s instructions. Please do not touch the adult pandas or let them touch you.
- Do not take photos or videos unless it’s allowed. Taking a photo of the panda costs 500 yuan (73 USD), while holding a baby panda costs 1000 yuan (147 USD) at the panda base. These costs are at visitors’ own expense.
- Touching pandas' ears will make them aggressive.
6. Confusing Names of Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
There are 3 panda bases in and near Chengdu: Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Bifengxia Giant Panda Base (official name: Ya’an Bi Feng Xia Base of CCRCGP) and Wolong Giant Panda Base. Wolong Giant Panda Base is currently closed due to earthquake happened in 2008.
There is only one Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (official name), located 10 kilometers from Chengdu city center. Due to translation, you may have seen some confusing names like Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, Panda Research Center, Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base, Xiongmao Jidi, and Chengdu panda base, but these all mean Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
In recent years, Ya’an Bi Feng Xia Base of CCRCGP is the only place to do Panda Keeper Program.
General FAQs about Giant Pandas
1. Do Pandas hibernate?
2. Do pandas like torridity or cold?
Giant Pandas live in alpine and sub-alpine regions, so they don’t like high temperatures. Cold is ok.
3. Do pandas climb trees?
Sure, they are very good at it.
4. Do Giant pandas swim?
Yes, they do.
5. What about pandas’ hearing, smell and sight?
Giant pandas are very sensitive in hearing and smell. However, they are born myopic.
6. Are giant pandas dangerous?
Giant pandas are normally peaceful animals and bamboo-eaters, but they have been known to attack humans. Because of their size (up to 150 kg, 330 lb) this could be dangerous. This is very rare, and probably the result of some sort of provocation.
When visiting the pandas, do as your guide instructs and any risk of distress to the pandas will be minimized.
7. Why are giant pandas black and white?
No-one really knows, but some scientists suggest that giant pandas black and white coats would provide camouflage when there is snow in their mountain habitat or make them difficult to spot when sleeping in trees.
Other scientists say the opposite - that their coloring makes them stand out, so it is easier for them to spot one another for mating purposes (giant pandas have poor eyesight).
8. Why are pandas so popular and cute?
Giant pandas’ bamboo diet makes them less scary than other bears. Eating bamboo has also made giant pandas round of face and round of body, which is quite endearing. They need to be round to keep warm on a low-energy diet and the round face holds powerful jaw muscles for munching bamboo.
If you visit the Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu, you can see pandas up close, have your photo taken with them and even hold a panda cub.