It's no secret that China has obliterated scores of its irreplaceable natural resources. What I mean to say, in fact, is that China had lost some the greatest part of its wildlife due to deforestation, internal and international black market and corruption. I speak here in the past, for nowadays China has spun the clock backwards, so to speak. With the world's eyes on China, especially with the encroaching Olympic Games, China has reinvented their erstwhile fatalistic proclivities.
Case in point here is the Giant Panda, whose habitat was more than scarred by amassed forest clear-cutting in the early 1950s to the later 1980s. Several animal organizations boast that we're lucky there is any Pandas left in wild China. However, researchers are optimistic when they say that there's perhaps 1,000 Pandas left in the wild. Researchers in Chengdu, of the Suchuan province, as well, believe that most of the pandas (just under 90%) are located in this area. So, what is China doing to help the helpless, you may ask?
Well, just outside of Chengdu lies the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center. During my visit, I noticed caretakers, employees and researchers alike doing all that they could do to save and educate the public about this well-nigh wiped out Panda species. School groups, tourist and locals alike can enter for a tour through the zoo-like facilities and see the pandas in the “wild.” Authorities attempt to closely imitate the natural panda habitat as is reasonably expected. Though pandas are shy by nature, they don't seem to mind the opulent windows surrounding their corrals.
When I say corral, however, I don't mean mere captivity. The area has bamboo and trees to mimic their natural environment. Additionally, there's plenty of open ground for the pandas to tramp about freely. Since the research center's establishment in 1987, with public admittance starting about eight years later, there's more than 20 giant pandas, with a nursery to care for the newborns. With several kinds of on-site museums and other species of pandas to boot, the research center is aplenty with hours of diversion activities.
I visited the research center in the morning hours. The center opens up at around eight o'clock in the morning and is one of the principal times to visit. Why? These Giant Pandas spend just under 40-50% of their time sleeping. Furthermore, they spend almost another half of their time eating. Ergo, they only play about 10-20% of their time each day.
The best time to catch the most action, I found, was during the morning hours. I got lucky enough to watch workers issue food to the pandas. Perhaps, however, they can eat the bamboo shoots at any time of the day. Though it is said their schedules are mood-driven, you might get to see some playtime action earlier in the day (though don't quote me on this).
The Giant Panda breed was nearly wiped out not long ago. Because of their inherent mating practices, which don't mesh well with humans demolishing their territory, the world lost thousands of these creatures. Pandas, again, are shy and somewhat reclusive. Though they have some teeth indicating primitive meals of meat, they are faithfully vegetarian today. Along with this herbivore behavior, these Giant Pandas are the gently giant—they're non-ferocious, non-protective and non-social. After reaching a certain age of adulthood, too, the Giant Pandas mate during the spring for just a few months.
Pandas don't wander far from home either—usually near a water source and foliage. They don't mate beyond the season and they only birth one to two offspring a year.? If in the wild, however, Panda moms will leave one cub behind if there are two. They do this as a survival technique. The mom can only nurse one cub.
At the research center, caretakers will feed cubs through tubes or secretly switch them every so often, ensuring proper feeding and nutrition. The research center properly uses your and my entrance fees as funds in the hopes of someday introducing the Giant Pandas back into indigenous wild. If you're like a lot of good-natured tourist, then pay your dues and visit the research center in Chengdu soon. They're doing a lot to save one of China's delicate species.