Take a look at the adorable panda shots adorning the Chengdu Panda Base website (www.panda.org.cn). Like bush babies and koalas, pandas are super cute.
Thank those big dark eyes, those tiny ears and fluffy, tubby stomach. Unlike other endangered species such as sharks, pandas spark our “parenting mechanisms”. Cue the urge to coo and cuddle the bear-like black-and-white darlings native to Chinese bamboo forests.
Cue the growth of Chengdu Panda Base. Set near Chengdu – the capital of spicy food hub Sichuan province in western central China – the base resembles a panda empire, sprawling over countless acres.
Chengdu Panda Base opened in 1987, with six giant pandas rescued from the wild. Now, its captive population is edging toward 100.
The conservationists who run the base, which perches on a mist-capped mountain, boast that they have avoided taking giant pandas from the wild for 20 years.
Helped by the fact that the panda is one of the few animals whose parts are shunned by traditional Chinese medicine, Chengdu Panda Base 'works'. In fact, the base is so successful that it has the wiggle room to give pandas away to good homes. The base just shipped two to Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo [www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/8932942/Giant-pandas-begin-their-5000-mile-journey-to-Edinburgh-zoo.html], which wants to boost its star power.
To put you in the mood for a Chengdu Panda Base visit, adoption or donation [www.panda.org.cn/english/us/2.htm] here are some winningly weird facts about pandas: eccentric animals by any standards.