Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Pandas of Chengdu

On our last full day in China, we finally went to see the pandas.

I asked the girls what they wanted to see or do on this trip when it was still in the planning stages and the first thing out of the senior's mouth was to visit the pandas. But then we had to go one step further and pay to hold a panda.

We arrived with our tour guide first thing in the morning and they were just about ready to start letting the pandas out of their nightly accommodations. Some were getting a bit of a snack to tide them over until they exited into the exhibit where they had lots of bamboo waiting for them.

The first panda enclosure we visited contained six adults. The crowd was light, and so we stepped right up to the railing for a prime viewing spot.

I noticed several of the pandas in the awkward position seen below, with the hind legs kicked out kinda to the side as if they wanted to put it behind them but just couldn't accomplish it. This looks terribly uncomfortable, but didn't slow down their bamboo consumption one bit.

Eating in an upright position was just too much work, and so this one decided to lay back and continue munching on its breakfast.

There were a couple of the pandas more interested in goofing around and playing rather than eating. The cute-o-meter just ratched up a couple more notches.

 Here we have proof of panda intelligence, using the tools in their environment for important stuff like butt scratching. I'm wondering if maybe somebody needs a good worming?

An adjacent enclosure had a momma panda and her two babies. One of the cubs shimmied up a tree and was displaying a whole lotta over-the-top cuteness for our cameras.

Meanwhile, down below, its panda sibling almost ended up with all sorts of nastiness on its head. Momma panda turned with her butt towards the observation railing to take a poo and wee. Lovely - real live action shots. I think the husband even got some of it filmed since we are all busy clicking away, oohing and aahing, with no inkling momma was about to get down to business. Baby panda wisely moved around to momma's head once it got a whiff of what momma was doo-ing!

Our next stop was the panda experience, where we watched a video, listened to instructions, donned gear to protect the panda and were then allowed to hold it.

One of the handlers kept the panda entertained with bamboo shoots dipped in honey so that it was a willing participant as it was passed from one tourist to another for maybe 60 seconds in each lap before another handler stepped up to pass it off to the next person.


While we were sitting around waiting for our commemorative photo with the panda cub, they handed out a sample of the panda bread. The center makes this as a way to supplement their usual diet. I passed, but the husband sampled it. He's like Mikey - he'll eat pretty much anything that doesn't jump off the fork before he can get it into his mouth.

On our way over to the red panda exhibit - the 6th grader is a huge fan of these critters - I just had to take a pic of this sign.

 Are red pandas even related to the giant pandas? I'm still clueless about that. Honestly, they look like a cross between a raccoon and a house cat. I loved the variations in coat - some were a lighter red while others had more pronounced rings on their tails.

That afternoon, we flew from Chengdu back to Beijing so we could fly home to England the next morning. We all agreed that we had a great time on our first family trip to Asia.

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