Chengdu: Look at the Cute Pandas!25 Jun 2014
China ain't exactly well-known as a beacon of animal rights, but the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is by all means one of the most well-run animal research and conservation organizations I've ever visited.
Chengdu—a 20 million + person city that still feels in many ways like a small town—was one of the highlights of our three weeks in China. Not only is it one of the best food cities in the world, it's also the only city we visited in China where drivers actually waited for pedestrians to cross the road, and where public restrooms regularly provide running water.
There's not an awful lot by way of touristy sites compared to, say, Beijing, but it has its cute little Disney-style walking streets (take a stroll down pretty Jinli, but don't bother ordering food or drink there, it is overpriced and not particularly good), and quite a few really lovely public parks.
Once inside, you can participate in such varied activities as singing with old folks, practicing ballroom dance with old folks, drinking tea with old folks, or—my favorite—getting your ears cleaned by young men.
You do not want to know what this fellow found while spelunking my inner canals. Suffice it to say, I figured out why my hearing seemed to bad lately.
So yeah, yeah, the city itself is great, but if you want to experience the real cool stuff in Sichuan, you'd do best to get out of it, and your first stop should be the Panda Research Center, where, if you're lucky, you'll get to see baby pandas doing stuff like this:
Or perhaps adolescent pandas doing things like this:
And you'll see panda butts, like this:
Oh, and more baby pandas doing this:
And did you know that pandas can climb trees and are totally cool sleeping in them like this?:
There are a number of peafowl that roam the grounds as well. Chinese children seemed strangely afraid of them. We spotted this guy taking hit little peachick out for a walk:
And did you know that red pandas and giant pandas are not actually related at all? I always acted like a smart aleck as a kid, because I knew from the ZooBooks series that giant panda bears are not actually bears, but are more closely related to raccoons, just like those red pandas.
Joke's on me, because it turns out that after some debate, scientists decided that pandas in fact are bears. Next they're going to tell us that margarine is unhealthy or that fat-free cookies can still make you fat.
Red pandas are cute and all, but not nearly as cute as giant pandas. I mean, just look at this guy:
LOOK AT HIM.