Chengdu (Part 4): I Want My Panda Hat!

China > Sichuan > Chengdu

Saturday, 23 Jan 2010

Leaving the Red Panda enclosures, we pass through more majestic bamboo forest.

Then ‘The Sign’ … please excuse us for being a tad excited! 😀

The Giant Panda enclosures are designed to be as natural as possible, with the raised viewing footpath discretely tucked at the side.

The first thing we see are huge blobs of black-and-white furballs, obviously pandas having a snooze after the morning feeding. These critters spend most of their time either eating or sleeping. I can surely relate to that.

Suddenly a stir, as a fully-awake panda steps over two sleeping friends. Are we in for a show now?

Nope, the bear just saunters over to find a nice spot for a snooze, what else?

No fun watching sleeping pandas – they look like fat slobs – so we move on to another enclosure for better luck.

Yes, we are lucky, a panda is awake, and eating of course. Eat, sleep, eat, sleep, …, maybe mate too.

Yes, gorging itself with delicious bamboo as its mate sleeps at an odd spot. This thing can sleep anywhere, anytime.

Interestingly, the ‘herbivorous’ panda has a carnivore’s digestive system, and hence cannot maximise extraction of energy and protein from bamboo. But since almost 100% of its diet is bamboo, a panda has to consume a lot of the stuff, some 10-15kg a day.

And where does the bamboo come from?

Suddenly an adult panda appears and rolls on its side to put up a show exclusively for us. Scratching its huge tummy, its bum, and its sides …

… before rambling down the wooden platform. They like to conserve their energy due to the bamboo diet, though a Chinese emperor once trained them to attack enemy soldiers. I wonder how a Giant Panda could ever harm people – it looks so docile and harmless, cuddleable in fact. Killing with its cuteness?

An illustration on how big an adult Giant Panda is, vis-a-vis humans.

Their habitat is faithfully recreated, and everywhere we look inside the enclosures, there are pandas. This Panda Centre, founded 1987, now has some 80 captive pandas, and is a major tourist site in China. Come in warmer seasons, and it’s jam-packed with people.

We spot a panda about to have its meal again …

… and observe the fine art of bamboo-eating.

Choose best leaves … hold with paws … cut with teeth …  arrange in jaw … grasp with paw … munch away … burp … grin … <repeat till tummy full>

Enough live pandas for the day, we find our way out.

In the woods, we stumble upon the Panda Coffee House. Being off-season winter, patrons are hard to come by.

We order declicious hot steaming coffee and pancakes, in the company of a bunch of boisterous Japanese.

After coffee, we saunter over to nearby Swan Lake. There’s a Black Swan, imported from Australia, maybe?

The colourful koi fish are in full force, fighting over scraps of food chucked over by the few visitors.

A pair of kids are engrossed with the fish and the birds too.

Looks like a Ruddy Shelduck to me, pretty when wings are extended. Migratory, this bloke should be in warm South Asia by now.

And of course, the awesome Blue Peacock.

Auwwww, look at that ear-muff!

And I just have to take a good pic of this handsome model and his panda jacket, so I tail him …

… and I’m not disappointed.

On the way out finally, and just before the gate, we pop into the museum which is at the visitor centre up the hill to the right.

A sobering display shows how much panda habitat has been destroyed. Green shows historical distribution of pandas, now restricted to red areas located mainly in Sichuan province. Smaller panda settlements are found in the neighbouring provinces of Shaanxi, Yunnan and Gansu.

So this is how the cuddly panda looks on the inside.

We exit the Panda Base, and across the road, there are panda shops. Get your panda fix here, rather than inside the Panda Base, since prices here are much cheaper. Haggle-able some more.

And finally, me and my lovely pandas!


9 Responses to “Chengdu (Part 4): I Want My Panda Hat!”

  1. Fara says:

    Love the koi, the ruddy shellduck & how you put the pics together!

  2. naim says:

    Thanks, time for you to go to Chengdu yourself! 🙂

  3. jam says:

    I did not get to the Swan Lake last time I was there! I hope I can get a panda headgear too, so cute!

  4. Ian Tan says:

    You are an excellent choreographer … maybe should start doing some documentary or even help out Tourism Malaysia 🙂 Great posts …

  5. naim says:

    Thanks, Ian … good suggestions! 🙂

  6. kawaii neko says:

    Yes. Enjoyed the photos, arrangement and captions. The still photos seem to come alive. Do keep up your superb work and contribution. The last and only panda visited was ling-ling of ueno zoo, just a month before he died. Noted that he was so slow in everything (thought it was the normal traits of a panda) and being kept indoor most of the time. Still he has played his role very well, bringing joy to the kawaii crazed nation.

  7. william koh says:

    Hi there,

    u have done a good job in making the pictures available. Realise that part of the park is good to visit will go on winter ,no crowd can enjoy more. thanks anyway.

    william koh

  8. Reduan says:

    Dear Mr. Naim & others;

    Since the author (Mr. Naim) and some others already went to Chengdu, I need your help (just 2 minutes) to answer questionnaire on Chengdu City.


    Universiti Malaya

  9. DFL - aka Cruiser says:

    How wonderful to view yr Panda pagaentry I shall regard as such for you have indeed displayed a good selection to excite us for what we truly missed when we were there, the year the Beijing Olympics was held.

    We did feel the regret but share more pain for the folks & loss of many Pandas too and strangely enough, due to circumstances, escaped the horrific earthquake by several hours earlier and flew back the very same day to Shanghai from Beijing instead of heading to where you both went fortunately.

    While having afternoon DimSum in Shanghai by the Bund after departing Beijing in the morning, were we then made aware of the first tragedy & toll on this Paradise for Pandas sanctuary.

    Keep it up Naim… always enjoyed yr pics and we plan to visit it someday soon ourselves.

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