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China: Giant panda

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Giant panda | China | Asia

[Visited: September 2006]

The giant panda is probably the best known animal seen by the fewest people. It is endemic to China, and it has suffered badly from poaching and constant loss of habitat. It might well be possible that the Giant panda had already ceased to exist, if it were not for their unique, cute appearance, with black ears and eyes, and a black stripe on their white, furry body. Its unique looks have become the symbol of animals on the border of extinction, and while humans continue to be the primary danger for their survival in the long run, humans have also been trying to prevent the cute bear from disappearing through conservation, research and breeding programmes.

Picture of Giant panda (China): Giant panda at Wolong Research Centre

For some time in the 1970s, giant pandas being borrowed from China to Western zoos even became one of the first ways of contact between the People's Republic and the West, also called Panda Diplomacy. The Wolong Reserve was already set up in the late 1950s, but it was only in the 1990s that giant pandas were better protected against their main enemy, humans. Since then, numbers have slowly started to rise, although the exact number of wild pandas remains unknown. It was exciting to walk into Wolong Research Centre, as this is one of the places where ongoing research and efforts for preservation of the species is carried out.

Picture of Giant panda (China): Giant panda showing his beauty as well as his laziness

Since giant pandas are not small, we immediately spotted the adorable big beasts. While some of the pandas still live in cage like confines, many others are living in larger, more natural spaces. These latter pandas will eventually have to survive in the wild. It was easy to see that pandas love eating, as they spend up to 16 hours a day eating, mostly bamboo. Otherwise, they made us stop often to marvel at their cuteness, their furriness, and their awkward way of moving around. Some pandas were sleeping in a tree top and we were waiting for them to fall out. Another great sight was the incubators, where tiny pandas were sleeping and breathing heavily, vulnerable and protected from the outside world. Since seeing pandas in the wild is very difficult, a visit to the Wolong Research Centre is probably the next best thing to see them in a less zoo-like setting.

Picture of Giant panda (China): Giant panda chewing bamboo at Wolong Research Centre
Picture of Giant panda (China): Large area for giant pandas at Wolong Research Centre
Picture of Giant panda (China): Giant panda cub in incubator
Picture of Giant panda (China): Giant panda walking in the grass
Picture of Giant panda (China): Giant panda slowly moving around
Picture of Giant panda (China): Young giant panda asleep on a treetrunk
Picture of Giant panda (China): Young giant panda sleeping at Wolong Research Centre
Picture of Giant panda (China): Giant panda in tree trunk at Wolong Research Centre
Picture of Giant panda (China): Giant panda playing in tree trunk
Picture of Giant panda (China): Giant pandas resting
Picture of Giant panda (China): Giant panda coming out of its dwelling
Picture of Giant panda (China): Yawning giant panda in tree trunk
Picture of Giant panda (China): Giant panda trying to look silly

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