"Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. " ~Lindley Karstens

Saturday, July 31, 2010

China Trip Part 2: Chengdu Panda Research Base

I have not been able to write my China Trip posts as quickly as I have hoped for even I have back from China for 10 days now.  Summer heats in Florida might have put me in a dormant stage :)  Meanwhile, there are so many things need to be done in the garden, and my daytime job is also resuming the speedy pace now...

In my last post, I wrote about my visit to Lake Taihu and The Turtle Head Islet Park located in Wuxi, Jiangsu province.  Although we also went to several other attractions in Wuxi, I decided that I will start writing about another city I visited, ChengDu in Sichuan province.  I always could write more about Wuxi in the future if I could find more time.

ChengDu is the Capital City of Sichuan province, located in Southwest of China.  I have included a map of China to show the locations of Wuxi and Chengdu in my previous post.  Chengdu has a humid subtropical climate, and is largely mild and humid.  For the interest of my gardener readers, its hardness zone is 9, and Wuxi is in Hardness zone 8.

During our stay in China, we visited Chengdu Panda Base, a non-profit research and breeding facility for giant pandas and other rare animals such as Red pandas, and golden monkeys. Chengdu Panda Base was founded in 1987. It started with 6 giant pandas that were rescued from the wild. By 2008, it has had 124 panda births, and the captive panda population has grown to 83 (Source: http://www.panda.org.cn/).

While this base is majorly a research institute, it is also open to the public.  It covers about 600 acres, and the environment is exquisitely designed to create a natural habitat for Giant Pandas and other endangered animals.  It is covered with big trees such as ginkgos, chinars, yulans, willows and embedded with high dense bamboo and grasses.  The human-made structures have been designed to blend well with the natural scenery.

The statue of Mother Panda holding a cub is situated in the entrance of the Base.  Beautiful Cleome flowers in abundance are surrounding the statue. 

I have to admit that I could not stop taking pictures of this beautiful flower when other members in my family had moved on eagerly seeing the pandas!  Love the shape of this flower, and its soft pink, lavender/violet, white colors!

Cleome hassleriana
Common names: Spider Flower, Spider Legs, Grandfather's Whiskers
Allow me to show you some more of the garden pictures before I show you the pandas!  After all, this is a gardening blog, right? 

Now we were off the main road...  Do you think we would spot the pandas soon?

What is that?  Oh, a red panda is in distant!

 Another one on the tree! But, where are those cute Giant Pandas?

Follow me on this path...

Wait, what is this bush that has red flowers on it?

The Close-up of the flower...  I think I have seen this flower in some blog friend's post, but don't remember what is the name.

This unknown vine distracted me once more with its pretty flowers dangling from the tree along the path... 

"Pandas! Mom!"  My boys were calling me.  They did not understand why their mom always walks so slow, and took pictures of anything, or "nothing"! 

Anyway, come back to the Pandas!  Aren't they super cute?!!!

This one was practicing his (or her) balancing skill on the tree...

These two were having relaxing time on their own, not minding all of us taking pictures of them like crazy!

Now we were off to visit the breeding center of the base.  We were so lucky to see a new born baby panda that was only 1 day old!  The baby was still in its incubator.  We were only allowed to watch him through the glass window, and no pictures were allowed to take since the flash light could damage baby's eyes.

Just give you an idea what a newborn giant panda looks like, I borrowed a picture from the Internet.
New born baby pandas (Credit: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/)
A newborn giant panda typically weighs 100 to 200 grams (3 1⁄2 to 7 oz) and measures 15 to 17 centimeters (6 to 7 in) long at birth, and it lacks the familiar black-and-white markings for its first month or so of life.

With only 1,600 giant pandas left in the wild, and nearly 300 pandas live in zoos and breeding centers around the world, mostly in China, you can imagine how precious a birth of the panda is!  Especially for the scientists working in this breeding center!

We were on the way to the exit of the research base now. Of course, I have to show you more pictures of the beautiful scenery on the road. 

Sometimes, a scene with only green color also could look so gorgeous! 
A rest area in the "forest".   Tables and chairs are built with artificial material mimicking tree stubs.

Another surprise for us to see, a Swan lake!

Swans and the gold fish live in harmony...

This concluded our visit to this Panda Research Base.  Next time, I will show you a restored historical resident area in Chengdu city.

** On May 12, 2008, a magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck causing damage to the area, killing lots of people. Though only 75 kilometers (48 miles) from the epicenter, Chengdu itself was built to earthquake specification, and most buildings there remained intact. **


  1. I'm pretty sure the red flowers are from the Genus Erythrina, known also as the "Coral bean." Perhaps someone may identify the exact Chinese species. Great pictures!

  2. Great pictures, Ami. Those pandas in the trees are so cute. Hard to believe they start off as those furless little things. But the newborns are cute in their own way. Thanks for taking me along on your trip to China.

  3. What a beautiful setting the research center is in. I would have been clicking away with my camera too1 And those pandas are just so precious! Wonderful photos Ami.

  4. What a wonderful trip to see pandas in China! It must have been so exciting for you and your boys to see the newborn baby. That research base has beautiful gardens, and I would have been snapping like crazy as well. I know what you mean; my family doesn't understand my obsession at all.

  5. Fougeres: Thanks for identifying the 'Coral bean' plant for me, and thanks for stopping by my blog and making a comment!

    NanaK: Thanks! Yes, if I did not see the newborn in person, I won't believe the baby could be that tiny for a Giant Panda.

  6. Jayne: Yes, that research center really had a very beautiful setting and creating a peaceful natural habitat for Giant Pandas. For tourists, it is a great place to see the pandas in close-up, not like in zoo.

    FG: Yes, we were all very excited to see the newborn baby. This actually was the second time we visited this base. Last time was six years ago when my younger son only two years ago. That is why we decided to visit it again. How glad we were we did!

    Hehe, now the whole family knows my obsession of taking plants pictures, and my husband can hardly get chance to hold the camera that was originally bought for him :)

  7. Wonderful pictures Ami. What beautiful gardens and natural habitat for these fantastic creatures. It is amazing that they come from those cute little babies. It sounds like it was a great little trip for you and your whole family.

    Thanks for this little mini vacation to another beautiful part of the world.


  8. Dear Ami,
    Thank you so much for taking us along on your return trip to China. What marvelous pictures of the foliage and lakes and vistas and PANDAS! I know how hard it is to sort through all the photos and put them on your blog. I still haven't finished bloggin all my Buffalo, NY garden photos. Life goes on quickly when we return from an out of town trip and then there is all that catch-up. It is VERY time consuming so I completely understand.

    I always love seeing photos lush with greenery and all that bamboo is just marvelous. You are very blessed to be able to go back to your homeland and enjoy seeing your family.

    I also think the red flowers are Coral Bean... I am growing it in the native garden but mine has not bloomed since I planted it. *sigh*

    One of my closest friends' children were in China during the earthquake of May/2008. We were all very relieved to hear from them that all was well even though they were very close by when it happened.

    Our oldest son went to China with his high school (many years ago) for an educational trip. It was quite an experience for a 'sheltered' American boy.

    Great post... again thank you for taking the time to share it so up close and personal.

  9. Flowerlady: Glad that you loved this post, and treat it as "mini vacation" :) Panda is very precious and endangered animal, and I feel so blessed that I got the opportunity to see a new born baby as well!

  10. Meems: Thanks for your long comments! Glad that you understood how hard to sort out tons of pictures that we took during the trip and it is even harder to make a post out of them :)

    That must have been horrible experience for your friend's family during that earthquake. That tragedy was just unthinkable...

    Not sure when did your son go to China, and which places did he visit. China has been changed so quickly within recent 10 years. I usually go back to visit my family every a couple of years, and every time we can feel the changes.

  11. I love the panda statue and the real ones too!

  12. Hi Ami,

    Well, I have often thought of visiting the Panda Research Base when we go back to visit China, but something you said made me smile....I would probably be taking pictures of all of the beautiful plants and gardens and not paying enough attention to the adorable pandas ;-)

  13. What an amazing place, those pandas are out of this world, and the pictures are pretty good too.

  14. Hello Ami, that's a wonderful trip we shared. I've been to China the first time in 1990 and i've seen these lovely creatures too, but i've missed seeing them, been a long time. But your post is more interesting because of your other photos, the plants and flowers, and interspersed with beautiful storytelling...and the photos are great too. thanks.

  15. Great post! Lush greenery, interesting animals! What fun! I didn't expect to see cleomes in China, although!
    I lived in Wuhan, Hubei province in 1990-1991.

  16. Ami, I'm so glad you shared these photos of your trip. China looks so lush and, well, similar to what I'd like my garden space to look like!! The cleomes are beautiful, but the star of your post is obviously the giant pandas. It's always amazing to see these creatures and to remember that they are, in fact, a bear. They look too cuddly and cute. The red panda is beautiful too..not as "common" to us westerners.

  17. I know I've been lax lately in visiting other's blogs,but I am so glad I visited your's today.Your photos are incredible!!!!And those gardens are to die for!The pandas....I could go on and on.
    Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us.

  18. Susan: Glad that you liked Panda, they are such adorable creature!

    Noelle: Kids would love to see pandas if you got chance to go back to China to visit this Panda research base!

  19. Rusty: Thanks for stopping by, and glad that you liked this panda and this post!

    Andrea: If you ever got chance to visit China again, you will find China has been changed a lot! This research base is really a beautiful place, not only for pandas, and also for all visitors!

  20. Tatyana: You will be surprised to see how many common plants grown in China and US. cleomes certainly is one of them!

    I have never been Wuhan, but heard it is very hot during summer time, not sure how it compares the summer in Florida though :)

  21. Kimberly: Your garen does look very lush and beautiful! Yes, the Giant panda always looks so cuddly and cute. I loved to have a giant panda stuffed animal toy to huddle when I was a kid.

  22. Chris: Your comment made my day! It is the comment like this made me feel it is really worth spending that much time to write a post to share with friends.

  23. wow, how absolutely gorgeous!! I love the black swans. I've never seen these before. I love pandas too. It's amazing to see them up in the trees, just hanging out. Now, I'm really not an animal person, but they're so cuddly and sweet looking. I just love them.

    That is so funny that they boys were saying you were taking pictures of nothing. ha ha!

  24. This is the first time I see a red panda! I only get to see the black and white pandas in photos anyway. They are really really cute and I'm so glad that conservation efforts are bearing fruits. The black swan and gold fishes make a marvelouse picture.

  25. Wonderful photos ! Thanks for sharing all this, and welcome to Chengdu again.

  26. Great photos...Do you know the color of Panda tail ?
    Find the answer in article Fat Big Pandas of Chengdu in http://stenote.blogspot.com/2017/08/

    See also a video in Youtube: https://youtu.be/Djy2N4Zn4lE


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