December 30, 2010
After Xi’an I headed to Panda City, otherwise known as Chengdu. Chengdu is located in the southern Sichuan Province of China and is home to 80% of the wild panda population and many breeding centers and sanctuaries. The most famous sanctuary is Wolong, but it was badly damaged during the 2008 earthquake and the pandas were moved to other sanctuaries in the area. The biggest sanctuary near the city is the Chengdu Research Base of the Giant Panda Breeding, located only 30 minutes outside of the city. I can only describe this center as a kind of Disneyland for pandas.
The center is doing a lot of very important research and breeding work, but unlike the center in Shaanxi it has been made for tourists to come visit, learn, and enjoy the adorable panda. The sanctuary is gigantic and I would suggest an entire day is needed to explore it in full. There are many different enclosures where you can see adult, sub-adult, toddlers, and babies. The babies were probably the cutest things I had ever seen, but the center has strict regulations against photographing them, even without a flash so no pictures to share. I do have many adorable pictures of the toddlers and adults so enjoy those below.
The base has red pandas on display as well, but the females are currently pregnant and the enclosure was closed to the public while I was there. The base also has a few other types of endangered animals, but they are there for research and cannot be viewed by the public. The center also has beautiful wildlife including many birds flying around and a large Koi pond where you can buy food and feed the fish and black swans. Feeding the Koi is really fun to watch because they get very animated and hundreds of them will swim to the edge and pile on top of each other to get the food. The pond is close to one of the sanctuaries restaurants and has a nice outdoor area and is a wonderful place to take a break.
The center is doing a lot of great work to protect the panda and works in conjunction with the WWF. To read more about the center click here and to learn more about the panda and what you can do to help save them click here.