Giant pandas are vulnerable bears that are typically found in the southern region of China. They are some of the most recognizable animals due to the black patches on its body. Giant pandas feed primarily on bamboo and when not in captivity, they have been observed to feed on birds and rodents. Although giant pandas share a name with the red panda, the two are unrelated. Although giant pandas were once common in both lowland and highland areas in China, human activities have limited the population to highland regions particularly in Sichuan and Shaanxi.
Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Center
The center is one of the most popular tourist destinations for panda lovers due to the ease of accessibility. Established in 1987, the Chengdu center was home to 50 pandas according to recent figures, which is significantly more than most other centers in China. When the center was founded, it was only home to 6 giant pandas. The Chengdu Center partners with some organizations such as Zoo Atlanta and the University of Liverpool to improve its conservation efforts. Other animals such as red pandas and peacocks can also be found at the center.
Dujiangyan Panda Base
The Dujiangyan Panda Base, which is home to about 20 pandas is one of the most popular destinations to see pandas as it approximately 41 miles from Chengdu. The base covers an area of about 0.19 square miles in Shiqiao village. The center allows tourists to participate in some activities such as caring for the pandas through their panda keeper program. After participating in the panda keeper program, the participants are given certificates as well as a T-shirt. The base limits involvement in the program to people who are between the ages of 12 and 65 due to the danger posed by the pandas.
Wolong Panda Center
The Wolong Panda Center is home to about 30 pandas and is another popular destination for seeing pandas. The center is situated in Wenchuan County approximately 75 miles from Chengdu. An earthquake in 2008 significantly damaged the center, and it had to be renovated and was reopened in 2016. The center is famous for its panda keeper program which allows volunteers to participate in the upkeep of the pandas as well as hike through the giant panda's wild habitat.
Bifengxia Giant Panda Base
Located about 93 miles from Chengdu, the Bifengxia Giant Panda Base is a popular tourist destination as it is home to approximately 20 pandas. The base offers an exclusive experience to the visitors; however, it comes at a higher cost and a long drive to get to the base. Its panda keeper program is longer than most as it lasts approximately two days. The scenery within the base, particularly the waterfalls, contributes to the large number of tourists who visit the area.
Giant Pandas Around the World
Giant pandas can be found in other countries apart from China such as Australia, the Netherlands, and Singapore. In total, about 26 zoos have a giant panda population with some of the most famous being Edinburgh Zoo and The Chapultepec Zoo.