Friday, August 23, 2013

The Pride of China: Pandas!

Day 2 in Chengdu! The panda breeding base. Pandas feed around 9:30 AM so I headed out early to try and see them when they were the most active. The base was in a Northeast suburb of Chengdu and about 30 minutes away. My lonely planet said a public bus traveled there, but I couldn't find it so I ended up hailing a taxi. 

It was SO CROWDED! Tickets were only 60 RMB ($10) and all of the money went to research for a good cause. 

Since it was so hot and humid out, the pandas were all inside in the air con. Eating. Pandas eat for 16 hours a day just to get enough energy--they primarily eat bamboo (their poop looks like chunks of green bamboo). At the research base they also feed the pandas apples and special panda cakes but they are special treats. Its crazy how much research went into EXACTLY what ingredients go into the panda cakes and how much. 

There are only about 2,000 pandas left in the world. Pandas are extremely selective when it comes to mating so many of them are artificially inseminated. The researches dedicate most of their work to finding ways for these guys to have sex or to have babies. A year or so ago one of the pandas had twins. In the wild a panda will abandon the weaker one because it can only raise one baby at a time. At the research base they can ensure that both pandas live. 

First stop was the panda kindergarden. Baby pandas!

This guy was a little ham

The nursery...

I think this little guy is about a month

At birth, pandas usually weigh about 100 grams. Last year a panda was born at 50 grams and lived with the help of careful observation and treatment, something that would never happen in the wild. 

At a month the panda gets hair. The little ones really are not that cute. A baby panda is 1/1000th the size of their mothers, so generally the babies are closely monitored and incubated to ensure survival. 

They had a video that showed a panda reacting to giving birth. They did not know what to do with their baby! They hit it around a few times and then the researcher ran in and grabbed it when they got a chance. 

I'm not sure when they will go back and be raised by their mom, but they only stay with their mom until they are 1 year old and then they go off on their own. 

Giant pandas!

Just chilling

And eating. 

Go Brookfield! Now there are only four zoos in the US that have pandas: Washington DC, Atlanta, Tennessee, and LA and it is considered a huge honor when China gifts a panda to another country. 

Kindergarten #2

And onto the red pandas. 

Red pandas...not so cute. They resemble a raccoon and are not friendly

The panda base was beautiful! I spent the entire day there walking around. 

Swan lake

A toilet seat I came across while at the base

After I left the base I walked around Chengdu a bit and explored the city.

So many people on their motorbikes! In Shenzhen these are not allowed to help with pollution so it was shocking to see so many!  

A man walking his turtle

A walk along the river! So peaceful! So many old people were just hanging out, playing mahjong or cards or getting haircuts (i think these people were volunteers) 

I loved the atmosphere of the city. So relaxed compared to Shenzhen and the people were much more friendly. Many people were out and about with their families and the rampant inequality between rich businessmen and migrant workers was not as apparent here. 


This was outside a school depicting the importance of an education. My perception of this picture: being educated = being a good Chinese citizen, carrying on and following the traditions of China. 

Laughable. Came across this in a Chinese bookshop. If Americans don't care to read this why would Chinese people care? 

Sichuan hotpot! WAY to spicy for me. But you get to pick all your own meat and veggies and then cook them in the spicy soup, kind of like Mongolian BBQ

some veggies--lotus, black mushrooms, sprouts, potato, bitter melon, and chinese cabbage

And meat--very different looking 

The statue of Chairman Mao in the center of Tianfu Square

Pretty decorations!

And beautiful landscaping! 

The city only had two metros, they made a cross and intersected right in the middle of this square at the center of the city. 

I didn't see many foreigners but I think I would be very comfortable living in this city. Someone I met from Shanghai told me that the people in Chengdu rank among the happiest people in China. 

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