Chengdu: 17th May 2014
The main purpose of any visit to Chengdu is to see the pandas. They’re on the endangered species list, and in the wild, they’re mainly confined to bamboo forests in remote, out of the way high mountain areas and, even if you can get there, your visa will probably have expired by the time you see any.
They used to inhabit the area around Chengdu, so it was chosen, in 1987, as the location for , the ‘Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding’. The site also has the advantage that it’s only about an hour’s bus ride from the city centre.
I was surprised to find it wasn’t as crowded as I’d expected. We had a good sight of the pandas, which I was able to photograph and video easily … you’ll see video in the coming weeks.
Of course, you can see pandas in other zoos throughout the world. Usually, there’s only one or two, though, and they just sit around looking cute and cuddly, and generally being pandas. It’s the same here … except there are many more of them. And, it does add an extra thrill to see them in something approaching their natural habitat.
There’s also a small colony of red pandas, which are much more active, agile creatures. They aren’t really pandas at all … at least, not related in any way to the giant panda. But, someone thought they were, so the name stuck. Since they, too, are an endangered species, they also found a home here.
As the name suggests, the main concern of the centre is with research into and conservation of these delightful creatures, But, it still attracts visitors from all over the world … which, in turn, provides funds for the base’s work.