Visiting the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding during our China odyssey was definitely an amazing experience. The Chengdu Panda Base, founded in 1987, is a non-profit research and breeding facility for giant pandas and other rare animals. It started with 6 giant pandas that were rescued from the wild. By 2008, it had 124 panda births, and the captive panda population has grown to 83.
The pandas are most active early in the morning so the earlier you can get there the better. We arrived at the base just before 8am well before feeding that takes place around 9.30am. Walking through bamboo covered lanes we arrived at the main pen just as morning feeding was about to start.
The huge and very slow moving pandas made their way to the freshly packed bamboo where they proceeded to either sit down or lie down and eat as much as they could. They were quite content lying on top of each other as long as they were able to reach the bamboo. Though Giant Pandas belong to the order Carnivora, the panda’s diet is 99% bamboo.
During the middle of the day they spend most of their time sleeping, particularly during the height of midsummer, so we were quite lucky to be there in the morning and see them at their most active. You could pay and get to actually hold one of the panda cubs if you really wanted to.
At first glance I nearly mistook the red panda for a fox or raccoon! This was my first sighting of these little creatures and I expected them to look a bit more like the Giant Pandas in build. They looked so cute and cuddly!!
The red panda is slightly larger than a domestic cat. It has reddish-brown fur, a long, shaggy tail, and a waddling gait due to its shorter front legs. It feeds mainly on bamboo, but is omnivorous and also eats eggs, birds, insects, and small mammals. We were quite lucky in that we also got to watch the feeding of these cute little red pandas!
Its hard to believe that biggest threat seems to these cuddly looking creatures are hunting and poaching. I cant believe that people would want to kill them, they are so beautiful!