Thursday, June 9, 2011

China Post #29 Pandas

After Xi'an we headed off to Chengdu. We had hopped to meet up with our friend Kenny Tse from Albuquerque who has since relocated to Chengdu, Intel has a Fab there as well as the one in Dalian, however he had already planned a vacation to Vietnam. We did however use a driver he recommended to get around which was great even if it was a tight fit with the five of us.

On the first day we headed to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Mom, Linda and Dylan in front of the entrance.
We hired a government guide who spoke english, all tour guides are certified by the government in China. A short way into our walk, we opted not to take the oversized golf carts this time, we came across this statue. Naturally mom wanted a picture with me and Linda a shot with Dylan in front of it.
In addition to Giant Pandas the Base houses a number of Red Pandas. Since the red panda is a more social creature it does not take as much space since they pretty much all hang out in the same enclosure.
The first pandas we really saw were two cubs with their grandmother, apparently mom hand been removed to prepare for mating.
A young cub trying to climb, turns out that the panda is a pretty good climber and spends a bit of time in trees at least when younger.
There are numerous panda enclosures since pandas are mostly solitary creatures as adults. Here is a large female snacking away.
The panda needs something ridiculous like 20 kilos of bamboo a day since they can only digest about 20% of what they consume.

We moved on to the adolescent pen where there were several pandas hanging out together just like middle school kids. Here is one tree testing.
Here they are getting ready to let the morning siesta begin.
Since the Giant Panda is from the mountains they do no like it when the temperature s over 25 degrees celsius (77 F) and are actually move in to air conditioned pens when things get too warm. One adult in fact was pacing near the entrance to her pen about the time we were leaving at about 10:30am.

Here is dad shooting some teenaged pandas. The females at this age can still be housed together.
Much of the Base is covered in bamboo that makes for nice sheltered walking paths.
Our guide, Dylan and Linda walking along through a bamboo tunnel. However the Giant Panda is a picky eater and will not eat the bamboo that grows on the base. Their food need to be shipped in from higher and cooler climate zones.

This will naturally be my mothers favorite stop of her trip to China. We all though it was a very worthwhile place to check out and it is amazing how close you can get to the animals. You do however need to go early and preferably not during the height of summer so that the pandas will be more active. We got to the Research Base at about 8am and it was great, it wasn't even too crowded.

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