People in Chengdu love their Giant Pandas. How could you not – they’re known for being hungry, tired and socially reclusive. Just like me!
The first night we arrived in Chengdu the hostel played ‘Kung Fu Panda.’ I wonder if the writers did any research at all about the lives of Pandas because I can tell you, after spending only one morning hanging out with these adorable beasts, that they are lazy as hell. They’re like the Romans, they eat lying down and then fall asleep anywhere they see fit.
We woke up at the ass crack to hoof it to the Chengdu Research and Breeding Center. (The Sichuan province is the only remaining place where Pandas live in the wild, and the research base is the go-to place for Panda research.) The Pandas are fed around 9, so you have to be there early or you will miss the fun. We arrived on time right in the midst of a fog storm. I say ‘fog storm’ because you could barely see the hand in front of your face, needless to say see the Panda’s feasting on bamboo.
Our driver/tour guide knew his way through the base and delivered us at the best places to get up close and personal with the Pandas. We peered through the fog to “ohh” and “ahh” as the adolescent Giant Pandas sat munching on breakfast, the Red Pandas scampered around avoiding the cameras and adults Pandas slept though everything. We even went to the nursery to see the itty-bitty babies. I loved it.
After the tour was complete, we were shown into a cafe and told to watch a video about the Panda base. This was slightly odd – the video was in English and went into extreme details about Panda mating rituals (or reluctance to mate). One notable scientific discovery was that electrocuting the male’s genitals did not work particularly well, instead they now massage the men to retrieve their sperm. This took 10 years to discover. It seemed fairly obvious to us in the audience that men would prefer massage over electrocution.
Also, stuffed Pandas are frightening.
This is my quick video of a panda eating bamboo. Enjoy!