Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Black and White and Red all over

Although Chengdu is supposed to be the most agreeable of all Chinese supercities - a friend I met in Shanghai went there last year, intending only to stay for a few days, and ended up staying for two weeks - the whole purpose in going was to see giant pandas.  China's goodwill ambassador to the world, and after living there two years I'd never seen them, so off to Sichuan province (one of the three provinces in which lies there native habitat) I went.
According to the advice Lonely Planet gave, morning is their most active time, and I had great intentions of getting there early.  Instead, I didn't leave Traffic Inn until 8, and although I immediately got on a bus, it took a long, long time before I got there.  I asked the guy at the desk how much a taxi would cost, and he said, "A lot," so even though it would take a lot of time, I chose to go with the bus.  Well, on the way back I was too tired to mess with buses, so I took a taxi anyway, and it cost less than $10...SO worth it.

Anyways, as a result of this bad decision, the pandas were beginning to get lethargic by the time I got there, but you know what???  So what?!  They were amazing.  They are truly gorgeous creatures, sweet and shy and mostly were just munching away on their bamboo.  Speaking of which, strolling through the park there seems to be a lot of it, but in fact the panda center doesn't grow enough to be more than a supplement to their meals.  Most of the pandas' meals come from bamboo purchased from people living in the countryside, harvesting it for a living.  I thought that was kind of cool.
The little ones were ridiculously cute.  I didn't get to see too much of them, but the ones I did made me want to take one home with me.  That's how cute they were, crawling around on their stubby little legs.

I will admit that I was a little nervous to see how things worked here after being to the Siberian Tiger Park last month.  I needn't have worried - as I said, these are China's goodwill ambassadors to the freaking world?  I mean, who doesn't love the hell out of a panda?  Of COURSE they are going to be happy and well-cared for (well, they were happy as far as I could tell).  The park had lots of signs, in both Chinese and English, which explained about the pandas and how they were raised (the official name is the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding) - for example, I learned that mothers often give birth to twins as a result of artificial insemination.  This happens rarely in nature and results in the mother abandoning one.  At the panda center, the mother and the caretakers at the center take turns taking care of them, one at a time.  The signs also listed the pandas names and ages, and included notes about their personalities.  It was pretty cool, actually.
You may or may not be aware that the giant black and white pandas aren't the only creatures bearing that name.  There is also such a thing as a red panda, which is NOT a relative of the giant panda, but the panda center has a few of them, anyways.  And as amazing as the giant ones are, I think I loved the red pandas a little bit more.  For starters, I believe in a little thing called ginger solidarity, but they also reminded me of my cat, Barnabas, with their striped tails and masked faces.  They are a little bigger than he was, and as Babysis pointed out, probably not into headbuts, but I don't care.  They were cool.

(P.S. Is it just me, or do I need to improve the endings of my posts?  I feel like most of them just kind of fizzle out at the end.  Maybe I'm just too tired when I write to finish on a strong note...)

1 comment:

  1. I am ridiculously jealous of this. I've always said that I'm pretty sure Pandas have to be my spirit animal...we're both so clumsy.