Close encounter with Giant Pandas in China

Posted on Posted in Asia, Blog, China

With only 1,800 Giant Pandas left in the wild, it’s safe to say these guys are pretty special. So special in fact, that they are listed under Category 1 which is the maximum level of protection when it comes to animal conservation. We were so excited to have our close encounter with Giant Pandas in China…I mean who wouldn’t be excited about seeing these cuties in real life!?

Why are Giant Pandas so amazing?

Giant Pandas are faced with a few challenges which mean their ability to increase their population in the wild is pretty compromised. Female pandas are only fertile for two to three days per YEAR, a tiny window of opportunity when it comes to breeding.

They are also solitary animals, so finding each other can be tricky. The maternal instinct factor is next to nothing with these guys too. This coupled with the fact that their newborn baby cubs are 1/900th of the size of a full-grown adult means they can be pretty surprised when they give birth! There are some pretty hilarious videos on YouTube to prove this fact. Trust me, you need to see it to believe it.

Close encounter with Giant Pandas in China

Close encounter with Giant Pandas in China

Close encounter with Giant Pandas in China

Close encounter with Giant Pandas in China

Close encounter with Giant Pandas in China

Despite all the odds being stacked against them, the wild population of Giant Pandas has increased 17% over the past ten years. The Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association are also doing amazing things in the Giant Panda Breeding Centres in and around Chengdu and China as a whole.

On our recent trip to China over Christmas we got to visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. That’s the actual name of it if you’re wondering. A  literal translation into English, the best kind of translation if you ask me. A visit to the panda base is listed as the #1 thing to do in Chengdu on TripAdvisor and we can totally see why!

Home to over 50 Giant Pandas of all different ages, this place is huge! We took the 30-minute drive from our hotel in downtown Chengdu to the base with our fellow blogger Serena from The Spicy Stilleto. We were all super excited to see the pandas…in fact it’s the only thing all of us really wanted to do on our trip.

Our visit in a nutshell

The thing that impressed me most was the space. Each panda has a huge enclosure well stocked with bamboo for them to munch on with heaps of things to climb, including trees. We even witnessed an adult panda almost fall from one of said trees…a tense moment for the huge crowd watching below. We captured this moment on film too, check out our YouTube clip below to see it for yourself.

If you like cute baby animals, brace yourself. This place has a posse of baby pandas ranging from tiny cubs around three to six months old, to one and two year old naughty toddlers. We got to watch them playing, climbing, eating and sleeping…the cuteness factor was ridiculous! Grown men were cooing over these little balls of fluff! It would be seriously hard not to.

Here’s some fun Giant Panda facts for you…

  • Pandas were once carnivores but they have adapted to a vegetarian diet of bamboo. Like us, they see the benefits of a plant-based diet! J
  • Pandas spend a big chunk of their day eating but only digest around a third of what they eat!
  • Pandas are good tree climbers and can also swim.
  • They have six fingers! Giant Pandas’ paws have five fingers facing forward and one thumb, good for ripping strips off bamboo and climbing trees
  • Unlike other bears, Giant Pandas don’t hibernate.
  • Giant Panda cubs only weigh 140g at birth and cannot crawl until they are three old. They are born completely white and develop their black markings later.

Red Pandas live here too!

The research base is also home to Red Pandas who roam an open enclosure you can walk through. I’d read on Trip Advisor before we headed to China about the panda base and the Red Pandas have a bit of a bad wrap. They have been known to attack tourists that get too close. There’s some interesting signage in the enclosure that hint at this too.


Thankfully they didn’t take a chunk out of anyone the day we were visiting. A couple of them even posed for a couple of photos, not very friendly looking are they?! Maybe their noses are a bit out of joint. They were actually the first animals to be given the name panda before the Giant Panda came along. Before that they were known as simply panda but now have the addition of the red as a precursor.

These guys are also on the endangered species list as there are only 10,000 left in the wild due to habitat loss. Despite their aggressive nature, people in Nepal and India have been known to keep them as pets! Just like their Giant Panda buddies, they prefer to eat bamboo and sometimes the odd birds egg or two.

Close encounter with Giant Pandas in China
Beware of the Red Pandas, they bite!

Want to visit the Giant Pandas? Here’s how!

The breeding centre is open from 7:30am to 6pm all year round. Tickets will set you back 58RMB, around $13 AUD. Bargain! We got there by car but there are public transport options including bus, train and shuttles. Check out the centre website for all the information if you’re planning a visit!

We absolutely loved seeing the Giant Pandas in Chengdu; they were a big hit with us. So much so, we made a video about it to show you guys how much fun it was! Check it out below.


Keen to know more about China? Find out the 14 things we LOVED and HATED about China!

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Born in the USA. Raised in England. Relocated to Australia 6 years ago. You could say that she’s a bit of a world citizen.
With a degree in Brand Promotion & Journalism, Victoria loves the written word and as such is our resident writer. One of her fave things to do anytime of day is to enjoy a good breakfast accompanied by an equally good coffee.

Vic loves a good road trip where she can rock out to good tunes (and some not so good, ahem, Taylor Swift fan alert!). She’s a demon on the squash court and loves to scuba dive. One of her dreams is to cage dive with great white sharks…way outside her comfort zone! She loves to travel and has lived in five countries. Her plan is to add a few more to the list.

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