I took this photos at Chengdu, in the Giant Panda Breeding Research Center. Apart from the big fluffy black and white Giant Panda there is also another type, the “Red Panda”, which actually was my favorite sight there. They look like Raccoon’s and roam freely in a confined space within the park which try to emulate their natural habitat, this space can be visited too. So the result is that these Red Pandas literally roam beside the people and between visitor feet, with the results shown above. They are very used to people, because they been breed in captivity they just ignore the people around.
Chengdu, capital of the giant and the Red Panda
When coming to Sichuan province (China) is the ideal place to see Pandas. From Chengdu city center i needed to ride 2 buses in order to reach here, so the place is far from city center. Once there i did notice the place was packed!, i mean, seriously crowded. I did go in the afternoon, and took me 15 minutes of queuing just to buy my ticket ( buy the ticket in the park!, don’t buy the ticket from any tout). I did go in the afternoon against the general advise of go in the morning. Supposedly you can see more panda action in the morning during feeding hour, and in the afternoons panda’s just sleep. But in fairness i saw a lot of panda movement in the late afternoon, so in this aspect i was fairly satisfied.
The place looks like the typical Chinese Park/zoo. Greenery, the inevitable lake, some restaurants, gift shops, etc. I did like the giant bamboo trees on the park lanes, those were huge and truly amazing!. Walking in the park doesn’t feel so crowded, but once you reach the places to see the panda, expect to squeeze yourself between all the people to take a peek of the panda’s.
Even the place looks like a park in reality is a breeding center, but to the occasional visitor really looks like a park. Here they try to emulate the Panda habitat giving them as much space as possible, which seems to be the actual trend in all the new zoos all around the world, less prison style and more simulated habitat, (which i think is a good thing). But you know, something is try to emulate the habitat, and another thing is to achieve your goal.
Also, is possible to take pictures with the baby pandas and feed them, for a hefty “donation” of over 2000 RMB to the park ( last time was 2000 RMB, might be even more, as this donation tag keeps on raising time and time again), in my opinion this is not worth it (how that helps for habitat emulation?).
Where else to see pandas?
Besides the Giant Panda Breeding Research Center, pandas can be seen at “Bifengxia Giant Panda Base”. 150 km south of Chengdu it will take you about 3 hours to reach there. They host about 80 pandas.
There are also Pandas in Beijing, Guilin, Dalian, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, and Macao zoo’s. And also in Chengdu there are some tour guides offering tour’s to spot the pandas on the wild. Of course to see Pandas in their natural habitat is not that easy, and they cannot guarantee success (or money back). So avoid those tours.
All in all, it was a good afternoon and in fairness i did enjoy the visit. The other alternative would go to Chengdu Zoo I can recommend the place specially for someone visiting with kids and don’t miss those super adorable red panda.
You can check this websites to know more: