"Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre - Part I" Top 5 Page for this destination Pandas Tip by mke1963

Pandas, Chengdu: 64 reviews and 151 photos

40 minutes to the northeast of central Chengdu is China's main Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre. Many Western visitors will have very mixed feelings about the centre, as most of the animal buildings are grim, dank, concrete 'bomb shelters'. The centre was built mainly in the 1980s when most zoo construction in the world was building stunning complexes with an emphasis on interpretation and education for the visitors and appropriate, interesting habitats for the residents; but in China, the 1980s and 1990s was the era when the country discovered concrete and the results will be a burden on China for decades to come.

There is much building work going on currently, with a new Panda Museum and a Panda Research Centre, but still "Mr Concrete" is getting his money and the building works look heavy on the cement and light on airy spaciousness - if you know what I mean.

Fortunately, the landscaping of the Panda Centre has been done well, with most of the 200 hectares planted as bamboo forest and woodland, with small lakes and pools. It is possible to get well away from the crowds of visitors - apparently up to 300,000 a day at times - by wandering away from the main enclosures. The most popular areas are the Infant Enclosure, the Juvenile Enclosures and the #2 Red Panda enclosure. At all three sites you will see "Chinese zoo behaviour" at its classic worst, with visitors heckling and shouting at the animals to get them to move. It's a pathetic sight to watch these people in action, and even many Chinese visitors are visibly embarrassed by the behaviour of many of the visitors. There are many signs requesting quiet - but it does seem impossible for these people to understand. It's all about respect, and that seems to be increasingly thin on the ground at these kinds of sites.

Website: http://www.panda.org.cn

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Oct 6, 2006
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