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Pics and report - holding a Panda at Chengdu Panda Center

Pics and report - holding a Panda at Chengdu Panda Center

Old Feb 8th, 2009, 12:43 AM
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Pics and report - holding a Panda at Chengdu Panda Center

I must admit I'm not the greatest fan of Panda holding - but last week, we had a guest, who wanted to do the Panda holding thing. This was the first time for us to arrange this - but it turned out to be a very easy process - something any vistor could do without a guide.

A couple of days before hand we'd phoned the center, to ask for details, only to be told we could pre-book - but had to turn up, and let the keepers decide if any of the Pandas were ready.

In actual fact it only took 15 minutes for them to get a Panda - it was small but too big to pick up - but it looked great in the photos.

Price was a 1000RMB donation - if we'd have taken the adult it would have cost 400RMB. To arrange all of this you have to go to Panda building 10 – there are folk there who speak English – so it’s possible to do all of this yourselves.

The time spent sitting with and holding the Panda is very short - under 5 minutes - but my wife was also allowed in to take photos - and one of the keepers was also clicking away with our guest's own camera.

to see pics and report, go to -
http://chengdutravel.blogspot.com/20...as-hotpot.html
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Old Feb 8th, 2009, 03:34 AM
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Thanks -- great photos and information.
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Old Feb 8th, 2009, 04:21 AM
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Cheers - rizzuto - but I can see I've made a glaring mistake in the first post -
I should have writtem - we couldn't pre-book the panda holding - you just have to turn up at the center
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Old Feb 8th, 2009, 05:23 AM
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Super pictures. The blog is intereting as well.
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Old Feb 8th, 2009, 06:37 AM
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I'm pretty sure the ultimate penalty would be applied to anybody caught poaching a Panda - like wise big rewards have been given to farmers who have saved the lives of injured or sick animals.
These animals are so rare, found in such remote habitat and considered to be so important as a symbol of China - that hunting isn't an issue with regard to Giant Panda survival.
But for other species - well that's a different matter
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Old Feb 8th, 2009, 10:39 AM
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Setting aside the obvious commercial and self-promotional nature of the original post, it should be pointed out again that this panda-hugging programme is in direct contravention of the supposed purpose of this centre to conserve an endangered species and return individual animals to the wild. The programme is not advertised and not bookable because it is not official, and you can be confidant the fees received (which will continue to rise steeply until the limit of what a foreign tourist will pay is reached), for which no ticket or receipt are issued, do not end up where they should. Those who do go to hug pandas are not acting in the best interests of the animals, and are supporting corruption.
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Old Feb 8th, 2009, 11:30 AM
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Strong point!
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Old Feb 9th, 2009, 07:27 AM
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On the point of conservation - I remember a Peter post recommending people go to the bird market in Beijing - a place full of trapped wild birds that are now imprisoned in cages.
As I said Peter I'm not a great fan of Panda hugging - I much prefer to see the animals in the wild - so far I've only got to see a Red panda - you can read the story here -
http://chengdutravel.blogspot.com/20...ing-panda.html

As such a noted china expert Pete - you must have seen a few wild Pandas in your time!!!!
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Old Feb 9th, 2009, 10:37 AM
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This, like the original posting, is dishonest.

The equivalent would be if I advertised here to say I would take money to conduct people to a place where they would pay for endangered species of birds to be trapped, or buy such birds, and indeed that I would attempt to phone ahead and book to make sure the transaction took place, thus giving direct financial inducement for further captures of wild birds.

There are many bird markets in Beijing; the birds recommended as of particular interest to children in an earlier exchange were those not in cages (although most reading here would regard the keeping of caged birds as commonplace, and there are certainly caged birds there), nor endangered species (although there are certainly some of those there, too), but those that in a centuries-old custom are trained to do tricks that involve them flying free (although they are otherwise tethered to prevent them joining in when not themselves performing, which might be viewed as little different from being in a cage).

There's no question that the birds would be best left in the wild, and that was previously stated, just as would pet birds in the West, too. The tradition of teaching the birds to perform tricks cannot, of course, be seen in the wild and requires interaction with humans, just as it does between pet dog and owner.

But no one visiting bird markets, which see very few foreigners, has any impact on those markets at all since there is no entrance fee, and no payment to anyone for anything (not even a guide). Purchase of birds is anyway unlikely, but ought, like panda-hugging, to be discouraged.

Bird-viewing, like panda-viewing, is another matter. Visits of foreigners to bird markets make no difference whatsoever to the continued existence of a centuries-old tradition, neither encouraging nor discouraging it, but it is almost exclusively foreigners who pay absurd sums that are obviously rip-offs for the maintenance of a specially created and entirely inappropriate interaction with the pandas, thus both keeping this inappropriate treatment going at the expense of the animals' well-being and supporting corruption at the same time. Those who visit bird markets learn something about traditional Chinese culture, and those who go panda hugging learn nothing at all, unless it's of cupidity both of guides and the staff at the panda breeding centre.

Nor, as seems to be implied, are the only options hugging or (nearly impossible) viewing in the wild. There are plenty of opportunities to view pandas and cubs close up at these centres and within the properly ticketed fees charged.
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Old Feb 9th, 2009, 05:21 PM
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Peter - those who hold those giant Pandas aren’t forced into it - they too are able to just view the animals from outside the enclosures just like all the other visitors – but they choose to use their money on this rather harmless occupation.
I, like you, wouldn't want to pay that hefty fee to do the Panda holding - but I'd rather people pay money into a project that ultimately gives the Panda a living cashcow - rather than another menu in the restaurant!!!!!!!! And ya never know – there could be a roll-off that also benefited other wildlife species.

With regard to them roll-offs - as Birdwatchers and hikers, we appreciate the Giant Panda most, because of the vast amount of land that has been up to Panda reserve areas - where although not properly protected by rangers and wardens in the true western sense - forests are allowed to flourish and other very endangered forms of wildlife can find a habitat. If the so-called Panda holding donations (and I'm sure Pete is correct that not all - if any - of this money finds its way into conservation) - help give more foundation to the value of wildlife - then let it be, because wildlife is in so much peril here, that any little push in the direction of persuading the locals there is value in preserving wild animals - surely must count for something.

As for those caged and tethered wild birds - well some traditions are just plain bad. When I first came to China in the eighties you could still see a few old ladies who had been the victims of foot-binding - a cruel tradition that has thankfully disappeared - lets hope some other cruel practices will also go that way.

Giant Pandas are very difficult to see in the wild - but Red Pandas - also an endangered species are a little easier to see - with Sichuan also being the hotspot for this species.
A couple of weeks back we were up in the snow at Laba he forest park - 4 hours drive from Chengdu - and got to see plenty of tracks. The rangers here regularly see Red Pandas. To see pics of those tracks - go to one of my birwatching blogs at -
http://www.birdforum.net/blog.php?b=1123
In that blog I go by the name of China guy - if you click back through the entries I think there is also on about us spotting our first wild Red Panda - there's also a lot of bird pics for those who are interested.

PS - I want to state again - that to see visit the Pandas in Chengdu is very east to do this without the services of a guide. Many of the park employees speak good English and there many signs/info poters in just about understanderble English (Chinglish).
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Old Jul 28th, 2009, 11:35 AM
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Hello, I'll be in Chengdu for a few hours, from 14:30 to 18:30, an I was wondering how long will it take to go to the panda breeding facility from the airport and back, just to see a few Pandas closer. Is it possible to visit them at any time of the day, or there are some specific visitors hours?
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Old Jul 28th, 2009, 01:14 PM
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The panda center would be open then (maybe closing around 17:00).

The pandas aren't "brought out" at specific times -- they have access to both the inside and outside. They tend to be most active (if such a term can be used for them) in the mornings.
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Old Sep 4th, 2010, 10:59 PM
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I know this is an old thread, but I just did the panda-holding this morning myself. I have two thoughts about the experience -- on one hand, I feel guilty for interacting with a wild (endangered, too) animal in such a way; but on the other, the experience in the flesh was such a remarkable experience, it's hard not to have enjoyed every second.

I also wanted to add a couple facts from the experience. First, as of my time of writing, you *are* issued a receipt in the form of souvenir tickets (500 RMB a piece, the full price for holding the panda cub is 1000 RMB at the time of writing). They are affixed with a holographic sticker and printed with the Chengdu Panda Base logo on thick paper stock with the words "The Certificate of Love for Giant Panda." I realize this may mean little, as counterfeiting and quasi-official corruption is common in China, but thought that I should add that.

Second, while it may be more concern for a wild animal causing lawsuits or issues with authorities, the staff seemed to be genuinely concerned for the comfort and safety of the panda cub. They rush the panda-holders through very quickly, slightly less than a minute per person in our case, but in addition to telling us as much, it seemed evident from their mannerisms this was to get the cub back outside as quickly as possible.

I'm not trying to promote the experience, I certainly felt a slight sense of either embarrassment or contempt from our tour guide when two of us out of our group of ~13 had asked for the panda-holding, so I have a feeling that the concerns regarding the destination of the 1000 RMB "donation" are likely justified. Holding a wild animal for a photo-op also goes against my conservationist ethics. In the end, however, it's still a once-in-a-lifetime experience that's hard to pass up. I would just recommend that all potential panda-holders think about all the issues thoroughly first.
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Old Sep 5th, 2010, 05:30 AM
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Well stated, ryageo. Most people will find valid reasons for and against the panda-holding, and it's hardly a clear-cut decision.

I asked my guide to arrange for me to hold one of the pandas (at the time, it was for a 4-5 minute session), then backed out. I guess I the image of a fat, bald man holding a panda was a bit too incongruous to my mind.
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Old Sep 5th, 2010, 09:00 AM
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I was there in Jan and found it to be a well-run facility. I didn't hold them but I have absolutely no issues with those who do. Or who pay 1m RMB to name a pair.
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Old May 29th, 2011, 04:41 AM
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I visited the center on June, 2006. I did hold a panda cub. I used plastic gloves and a gown, to protect the panda. The caregiver was very nice with the cub. The cub was not force to come, if he did not want to come out, thats it, no holding time. It was a unique and emotional experience. I believe this gave me a greater incentive to help and promote the conservation of these beautiful animals. I bought some plush pandas in the gift shop, to bring to the kids in my family, and I am writing a book about my experience and the importance to help this endanger animals. I am using the pictures they took of me and the panda cub (more than 5 minutes), and also all the pictures I took, during my visit to the center. Any time I have the opportunity, I talk about my experience, and request help for the project. I can not explain the feeling of holding that cub, so warm, soft, and plump. I gave him bamboo, he was resting on my lap (it was big), I did not want to let him go. There is a picture of me, sobbing, it felt like they were taking a baby from me. Kind of embarrassing, but what the heck, I hold him, hug him, talk and kiss him, that, I will never forget. I don't think I put the cub in any danger.
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Old Jun 9th, 2011, 02:59 PM
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nasty little creatures. exploitation at its worst, especially picture #5. you can tell they are in pain (tic)

http://tiny.cc/6evwv
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Old Jun 9th, 2011, 05:04 PM
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lol, Linda has the biggest smile while she is holding that panda!
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Old Jun 11th, 2011, 11:29 PM
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Kathie,

Lol, I luv the last one where she has that(why did you take my babies from me) pouting face

Aloha!
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Old Jun 12th, 2011, 01:54 AM
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Fantastic.

Best part, by far, is that none of the photos include hawaiiantraveler.
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