Hello, the author of the article, Y. Kotin, tells in this article. What is panda park, how to get there and who / what is there? Will talk about big black and white and red pandas. Find out why the panda has this color and why many people think that she has 6 fingers? What does panda mean to China? And why are there so few left?
What is Panda Park and how to get there?
We could not pass by the world famous and largest panda reserve. Moreover, it is located in our city of Chengdu and only a couple of hours away from us. So we hit the road at 7 am.
This reserve is on the 3rd pink line, and all station names are duplicated in English, so we are just looking for the “Panda Park” station. It is best to get to the park on your own, as it is located within the city (10-15 km from the center of Chengdu). As you get off at the station, you will immediately realize that you have arrived as intended. Follow the people, at this station mainly those who are also going to the park leave. In front of the metro, you will see a large glass shop in yellow colors. You go there. The staff speaks English, and you can understand each other even if you don’t know Chinese. Using the QR code, you install the app and pay 2 RMB for the bus, which most likely departs from minute to minute.
At the box office, a ticket costs 55 yuan. You can also take a guided transport tour there. Maybe if buying online there might be discounts – look ahead if you like.
Here you need to buy a bus ticket to the park (Photos: Source: Yu.Kotina)
What kind of place is it?
Oddly enough, this is not just a place where one and a half hundred pandas were collected. This is a whole scientific institute. It is thanks to him that now we can look at rare animals here. This reserve was opened in 1987 and its first inhabitants were 6 rescued pandas. Authorities and scientists from all over the country began to pay attention to the reserve. The goal was not just to create a zoo, but to restore the population, raise animals to maturity and release them into the wild. Now the area of the reserve is 100 hectares (1 sq. Km), 96% of which are covered with bamboo thickets.
It has 3 main halls and more than 10k exhibits, which are located on 300 m²:
- Insects and fossils
Unfortunately, the other two halls were closed and we only visited the panda hall. This museum was opened in 1993. Its main purpose is to convey information about these animals to visitors as clearly as possible. The museum has a whole library dedicated to pandas (well, of course, because this is the world center for the study of pandas!) Starting from research, ending with paintings and photographs of pandas when they still lived in their natural environment.
In the museum itself there are stands with information in Chinese and English. There are many touchscreen computers with panda games and other useful information.
But I advise you to look into it later. It is located almost at the very beginning of the park, go through it, still have time to return.
First you need to have time to see the pandas!
Big black and white panda
The panda is a large mammal, the weight of an adult reaches 100-150 kg and up to 180 cm in height. The animal is considered omnivorous (it can eat eggs, larvae, meat and fish), but by its nature the panda is vegan. The main diet, as everyone knows, is bamboo. Every day the panda eats at least 3 types of bamboo, only about 20 kg and spends 14-16 hours on it.
The fact that pandas do not hunt, but make do with plant foods has earned respect in the eyes of the Chinese. According to Buddhist philosophy, eating meat is bad, and pandas eat bamboo, which means it is also a divine beast.
Pandas willingly climb trees and sleep there. They usually sleep for 2-4 hours after eating. That is why we tried to arrive at the reserve early, before their breakfast. Trees are their shelter, in the wild they do not have a permanent home (except for mothers during the rearing of offspring, they settle in caves in the mountains).
They say that pandas are six-fingered. But no, this is a delusion. They have 5 fingers and a special growth that helps them to break and deftly grab bamboo stems. It used to be mistaken for a finger. They, like humans, have 2 sets of teeth, but 42 pieces each. The throat and mouth of the pandas are protected from damage by the bamboo stems with a special pad.
They don’t hibernate, but why? It is not cold in China with such a fur coat in winter.
Pandas are proud loners. In the wild, they do not enter someone else’s territory, but sometimes they communicate with each other by panting, growling and squeaking or leave marks of their glands on stones and trees. In the reserve, on a small territory, they, of course, communicate, and the favorite game of young pandas is to knock, bite and throw their comrade off a log.
Under natural conditions, pandas are found only once a year for breeding. The average life of a panda in the wild is 15-20 years, in the reserve – 30.
About panda’s childhood
It turns out that female pandas are capable of breeding only 40 hours a year during the spring and are able to give birth once every 2 years. In the reserve, pregnant pandas are moved to a special enclosure, closed from prying eyes.
The main problem of pandas in captivity (but not only), it turned out that they are too lazy to make offspring. And sometimes the male simply does not know how: he is circling and treading, but he does not understand what and how.
This question was solved by scientists from the institute by means of artificial insemination. As a result, the panda population has grown from 6 to over 100 pandas.
The gestation period is 90-160 days. If the female suddenly feels that it is unsafe to give birth, she will “postpone” the birth for some time.
The cub is born completely white and blind, weighing between 100 and 140 grams. But he eats up to 14 times a day. During the year, it gains weight up to 45 kg. Sits on the mother’s neck until 3-4 years old. The father does not take part in raising the offspring.
Why is the panda black and white?
There is one legend (but in different interpretations) that is told to children.
Once upon a time there was a shepherd girl who watched over sheep. She walked all day and a panda began to come to her. They became friends and had fun.
One day a tiger attacked the herd. The girl began to protect the herd, the tiger then rushed to the slow panda, but the girl was able to protect her and drove the beast away. But she herself received severe wounds and soon died.
The panda was very upset, she told her panda friends. They felt very sorry for the girl, the pandas cried and, in order not to hear these stories anymore, not to see the upset faces of other pandas, they began to smear their eyes and ears with coal, and then hug and console each other. And so it happened that the panda has black eyes, ears, paws and back.
But this is a legend, in truth, there is still no confirmed version of why they have such a camouflage. Some say that this is a unique pattern by which pandas recognize “their own”, but animals usually recognize each other by smell. Therefore, the most logical version seems to be that black spots are in order to keep warm, and white ones are to reflect. This is how pandas regulate body temperature.
Who are these pandas?
But in fact, pandas are not really bears. It is a separate genus in the bear family with the traits of bears, raccoons, martens and dogs. Black and white bears are considered the ancestors of modern bears, because they have existed for about 5 million years, and brown and other bears appeared about 3 million years ago.
But the small panda (red-haired) – belongs to the superfamily of marten-like.
Who else is this?
Small or fiery (red / red) panda
This is a ginger animal with black stripes on its legs, a wide muzzle, small ears and a long fluffy tail. They belong to the dwarf panda family because their size is about the same as that of a well-fed cat.
Length – 65 cm, weight – 3.5 – 6.5 kg. Their claws never hide, as they mostly live in trees, and only go down to eat.
A panda gives birth in a hollow of trees, usually 2-4 cubs. But since it is difficult to feed everyone in the wild, the panda pays more attention to the strongest children and survives 1-2. Babies develop slowly, but the father can sometimes help in education.
The little panda lives for about 8-10 years in the wild.
The institute, of course, nurses all the offspring of pandas and fights for them to the last. Thanks to this, the panda population is increasing. Now in nature, there are about 10,000 red pandas.
Panda Sanctuary isn’t just about pandas
We have not seen, but on the Internet they write that on the territory of the reserve, in addition to pandas, you can see:
- Golden Monkey / Rhinopithecus roxellanae / Pygathrix roxellana
- Chinese tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis)
- White stork (Ciconia ciconia)
- Black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis)
- Other endangered species in the region
Well, who exactly can be seen – these are beautiful and important peacocks that just walk around the reserve. So if you’re lucky, you can even pet them. As well as black swans, ducks and large carps.
If you get hungry, there are restaurants and eateries on site. They are mainly found on the lake. There are also swans with ducks.
What is a panda for China?
For China, the panda is a symbol of the country, a totem animal (understand how you want). She is greatly respected and (now) protected. Still not to protect! Renting a panda for a year costs $ 1,000,000 per year.
Last year, the pandas Ding-Ding and Ruyi were “presented” to Putin for 15 years, their maintenance costs about the same, because 90% of their diet is bamboo, which must be delivered from China. Needless to say, from whose pocket this “gift” was paid?
A couple of months ago, Canada decided to return the pandas to China, because due to the coronavirus collapse, deliveries of bamboo have become more difficult, and stocks are running out.
Pandas not born in China are still the property of China, even for those pandas that are rented.
There used to be a lot of pandas in China. Now they have remained only in a few mountainous regions of Sichuan, in the Qinlin Mountains of Shaanxi Province, as well as in the very south of Gansu Province. Rumor has it that they were previously trained to kill. I hope these are myths, because pandas are very friendly and sooooo lazy.
They live in bamboo forests and mountains in humid and temperate climates. The Qingling Mountains are their natural home.
The problems of the disappearance of pandas
China is developing so rapidly that it is remodeling mountains and destroying forests – the natural habitats of giant pandas.
However, not only this led to a decrease in their number. The panda hunting ban came into force in China in 1962, but the subsequent poaching further threatened the panda population.
Now the Chinese government is successfully fighting poachers (for capturing and killing pandas, the punishment is from 10 years in prison to the death penalty, depending on the severity of the crime).
And the most important problem is the reduction of their habitat. Bamboo forests are being cut down for development and to feed the pandas in the reserve.
And also the problem of reproduction. Pandas in captivity did not want to breed (logical), but over time, scientists managed not only to stop the loss of animals, but also to slightly increase their population. After all, babies are being followed even before their birth.
My attitude (author)
On the one hand, it is good that the panda population is recovering. But on the other hand, you need to take care and think about animals before destroying their homes and exterminating thousands.
In the reserve of poor pandas, hundreds of Chinese people are filming all day long, pointing fingers, making noise, and so on.
Of course, now in China, forests are being planted again, they are engaged in reforestation of deserts, this gives hope that not only we, but also our children will be able to see such cute animals!
If you love pandas very much and you have $ 300-350 lying around, then you can even take a picture and hug a panda. You will be dressed in a special suit and admitted to the aviary. But they won’t bring a panda to you. If she is not in the mood, you will be left without a photo. After all, the goal is to protect the pandas, and not to make her pose with you for instagram. But often the pandas themselves do not mind cuddling, so you have every chance!
What about back?
Getting back to the metro is easy too. Look for a tent or people in yellow clothes, most likely they are somewhere near the exit and gather a group for delivery to the subway. As soon as a whole bus gathers you, a person will call transport and for 2 yuan you will get to the same place from where you started your journey.
If they ask me, is it worth going to the panda park? I will answer yes. Just be quiet, don’t whistle, make noise, and turn off the flash on your camera / phone.
Seeing pandas at least once in your life is definitely worth it, and you can take many cool pictures on the territory.
Great respect to the author – Yu. Kotin. There is still a video, but it is temporarily unavailable, as it will be available, we will definitely publish the author’s video on the site. Also, the author can take Chinese courses.