Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, or simply Chengdu Panda Base, is a non-profit research and breeding facility for giant pandas and other rare animals. It is located in Chengdu, Sichuan, People's Republic of China.
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Chengdu Panda Base was founded in 1987. 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. Its stated goal is to "be a world-class research facility, conservation education center, and international educational tourism destination."
The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (hereafter Chengdu Panda Base) is an organization engaged in wildlife research, captive breeding, conservation education, and educational tourism.
The Chengdu Panda Base was founded in 1987, with six giant pandas rescued from the wild. Today (2007) the captive population has increased to 62 individuals from that founding population of only six. Genetic diversity in the population is sustained by the exchange of preserved genetic material with other facilities. The Chengdu Panda Base has not taken any giant pandas from the wild for 20 years. This demonstrates it's unique and uncompromising commitment to the conservation of the wild (in situ) population and the healthy growth of the captive (ex situ) population.
Due to the research and commitment to animal health and welfare, 110 giant panda cubs have been born to the Base in 75 litters, 70 survived and now we have 62. To assist other institutions holding giant pandas the Base provides technical support and send experts to assist with care, rearing, and breeding. So that all giant panda researchers can share their knowledge, the base host the Giant Panda Annual Technical Meeting, inviting researchers from all over the world to share information to improve captive management for the conservation of giant pandas.
The Chengdu Panda Base covers an area of 106 hectares and will be enlarged to 200 hectares during the third phase of our expansion. Red pandas, golden monkeys and other wild and/or endangered species live and breed here.
"I am a Panda & I love Pandas!" : Panda base is one place in Chengdu you cannot miss! The sight of these adorable pandas will melt your heart. You can simply spend the entire day watching these pandas as they just keeps on eating and playing. If you are lucky enough, you get to see baby pandas being brought out for a nice sun tan. Try to be there early as you get to see the Pandas being fed and to avoid huge crowds. Other than pandas, you get to see peacocks and swans around this base. Beware of the taxi touts outside the panda base.
"Definite Trip Highlight" : The Giant Panda Breeding Center ahs been on my 'bucket list' for the past few years, and it was well worth the visit. The drive from the hotel in Chendu was pleasant on good roads, and the Center is very well layed out in a park like atmosphere, without making you feel it is a Zoo. It's spacious, you can either use a tram for the uphill portion and walk back or walk the entire area at your leisure. The maps you receive are well marked, and the excitement of seeing juvenile and adult pandas a play and rest was a thrill. Also got to see the very different Rd Panda, and fully enjoyed the pond area though it wasn't panda related. This is truly a class act, and a highlight of my visit to China
Be a panda volunteer in Chengdu Panda Base: Another way to enjoy the Panda Base is to become a volunteer for the day. Our October trip was awesome, as they often have up to a dozen people volunteer but on this occasion we were the only ones - so got rather special treatment. The typical volunteer's day runs for up to 7 hours (including a 2 hour lunch break to wander around at your liesure).
We started off inside the "staff only" area of one of the large areas where adults are kept. The facility itself was exceptionally clean inside and our first task was to assist prepare apples and bamboo to feed to the pandas. I can tell you the apples were better than the ones I bought at the markets the day before to eat myself at lunch. In all we fed 6 separate pandas by hand - using a bamboo pole, for safety - spending around 2 hours doing so. I took several hundred photos and about 10 minutes of video and am still trying to pick my favourite moments - just too many.
We saw first hand the unique personalities of the pandas - one was very naughty and kept trying to steal the bamboo pole: only then did I realise how incredibly powerful these creatures really were, belying their cute-faced cuddliness. Others were very gentle, and some just so playful you could not wipe the smile off your face while watching them. One of the "volunteer" duties involved cleaning out a panda cage. Not as daunting as it might seem as the pandas eat the freshest food and their ecrement was not at all offensive. Perhaps not as nice as holding a panda for a picture, but nevertheless an experience you won't forget!
Pandas at Chendu are certainly spoilt, as their last meals were of "panda cake". This was fed immediately after it was baked, and I even got to taste some! Can't say it was going to find its way onto a menu anywhere, but it was certainly another aspect of the visit that made the whole experience absolutely awesome. We finished off with visits to the baby panda breeding areas, and red panda enclosures, again entering several areas that were reserved only for staff. In other words, we got as close to pandas as staff did - usually about a metre away.
Because we were the only 2 volunteers our day ended earlier than usual, although we did more than most larger groups as our Panda Base professional guide never had to divide her attention amongst others.
A few tips if you do the volunteer day. Lunch is not free and you will be guided to a place which is reasonable, however 100 metres away you can get other meal options. You will have time to check out the options as the typical break is 2 hours. The Panda Base is massive and you can easily spend another few hours there visiting other places - so if you have a fine day you should just cruise around like a true tourist. Finally, getting a cab back can be arduous as so many touts are ready to rip you off. Find out a fair return price beforehand from your hotel and negotiate this if you are unable to get a legitimate cab who runs on the meter.
"One of the nicest experiences in China": Having travelling extensivly in China over the years I had a dream to see a panda. I didn't visit any of the numerous zoos for it but waited until I finally travelled to Chengdu.
It was really well worth waiting. We got to the park as early as the gates where open - at 8 am and got the best "seats" at the yard with the biggest number of giant pandas(about 12-15) walking out for their breakfast exactly at 8.30.
They're so nice and cute and incredibly lazy that you just can't help yourself falling in love with them, You don't really have to be a huge fan of animals to do so.
This was such a perfect match into my China puzzle that I can now rest for few years and visit other countries.
"Definitely worth a visit": The group that I was traveling with booked a tour to the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base. The entrance ticket into the base was included in the price for the tour. It's best to get to the base early, probably around 8am, when the pandas are at their most active and they are being fed. It is about 40 minutes outside of the city and there is usually a bit of traffic on the way there. You could spend hours and hours wandering around the numerous enclosures. We were late getting back the the group because we couldn't stop taking pictures and videoing! No trip to Chengdu would be complete without seeing these amazing animals. It was so much better than Beijing Zoo!!!
"Holding a baby panda is a once in a lifetime opportunity": I loved the panda base. The pandas have great enclosures, are well treated and seem to be happy. The cubs frolick and play and it is absolutely captivating to watch. You have to arrive early to really see a lot of action, we were there at 8am. Take a look at the info at the entrance, it tells you where the babies are being viewed and at what times. We went straight to the midnight nursery and had an undisturbed 40mins with a mother and two cubs playing. It was magic.
Holding a 1year old panda, while expensive at 1300 yuan, is absolutely a highlight. The staff could use a lesson in friendliness but otherwise, this is a must do site in Chengdu.
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