People, panda encounter in Chengdu full of mutual affection

For Visit Laos-China Year 2019, Vientiane Times is publishing a series of feature articles and images promoting the two countries’ collaboration in tourism and hoping to inspire more people, especially from China, to experience the nature, culture, history and hospitality of Laos, the jewel of the Mekong.

Pandas parade around their large forested enclosure to the delight of visitors.

Imagine a place where people and giant pandas seem to be exchanging friendly smiles and warm feelings with each other. Well, that’s the impression visitors get at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding or simply the Chengdu Panda Base, located in Chengdu city, Sichuan province, China.
It’s not surprising that when the local public has free time, large numbers of families visit the site which is now one of the top attractions in Chengdu city. However, the facility is not just for show; the Chengdu Panda Base conducts serious research and breeding programmes for the vulnerable bear species.
The centre is a magnet for domestic and overseas tourists who are drawn to this famous place in Chengdu to learn more about these adorable black and white creatures. 
Vientiane Times joined reporters from other Asean countries on an exciting visit to the centre while attending the 2019 Asean-China Media Cooperation Forum from May 13-19.
For most of the Asean reporters, it was a first-time visit to the Chengdu Research Base and coming up close with the cuddly looking Chinese-native bears. Naturally, everyone took the opportunity to shoot photos and videos of this unique encounter with the pandas.
But the media weren’t the only ones taking pictures and large numbers of Chinese visitors also tried to get the best vantage point for their photos as they made friendly calls to the pandas.
The pandas in their enclosures seem to respond positively to the visitors’ calls by walking, eating bamboo, climbing trees or  just sleeping.
After being established in 1987, the breeding centre now has a sizeable number of pandas and endangered red panda cubs - mothers, fathers, and even grandparents. The base has many stands of bamboo species to satisfy the pandas’ insatiable appetite for the fast-growing perennial plant. Pandas also like to eat vegetables, of which there is a steady supply.
The facility is populated by bamboo and other trees which not only provide a food source for the pandas but also affords them and visitors a pleasant environment.
As the Chengdu Panda Base is quite large, visitors can opt to ride around in electric tour buses to save their weary legs, and there’s plenty to see. Apart from the panda viewing areas, the base houses the Panda Scientific Discovery Centre, Chengdu Giant Panda Museum, Veterinary Hospital, and Panda Story Cinema.
Here visitors can watch a documentary (both in Chinese and English) about giant panda breeding, oestrus, artificial insemination, pregnancy, delivery and growth which are presented vividly, showing visitors the real life of the pandas.
Rounding out every visit to the centre is the obligatory encounter with the gift shop, which features all manner of cute and cuddly panda souvenirs. Visitors can also enjoy local Chinese food here following their experience with the giant pandas.  
The breeding centre prides itself on promoting China’s achievements in ecological protection and has partnered with many organisations around the world to improve ways to conserve the giant pandas.
The Chengdu Panda Base is open from 7:30am-6pm throughout the year. For more information, visit their website www.panda.org.

By Sangkhomsay Bubphanouvong
(Latest Update May 29, 2019)

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