Giant Pandas are endangered animals, almost extinct (there are about 1,000 left in the wild, researchers estimate). The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, a non-profit organization, was founded in 1987 with six Giant Pandas rescued from the wild. Development has limited Giant Pandas to a few mountainous areas in central China. They live in forests and eat almost exclusively bamboo. Now, thanks to the Chengdu Panda Base, there are about 160 pandas in captivity around the world. The lifespan of a Giant Panda in captivity is about 25-35 years; in the wild almost half that. Chengdu Giant Panda Base holds an annual conference for researchers, and is committed to conservation education and Giant Panda Research. Other endangered species are cared for at this facility, as well.
- Take a look at this Giant Panda eating a pile of bamboo. They eat so much! A Giant Panda can weigh up to 250 pounds and eats over 80 pounds of bamboo a day! Can you imagine eating 1/3 of your weight, each and every day? And having your meal time take up 50% of your day? That’s a lot of chewing. Pandas spend 40% of their time sleeping, and 10% playing. Think about eating for half of your day, and sleeping the other 40%. What would you do with that 10% of time left?
- Baby Giant Pandas are only 1/900th the size of their mothers when they are born! Watch this video of a mother Giant Panda playing with her young cub. Do you think that Giant Pandas are cute and cuddly, or just a differently colored bear than what we’re used to?
- How can you help? Learn as much as you can about Giant Pandas. Take a look at this map of the historical habitat for Giant Pandas – and compare it to their current habitat. Think about eco-tourism and how humans can reduce the impact of travel and tourism on the habitats of endangered species.Visit the Chengdu Panda Base, as this traveler did, and note the sign about noise, then watch this video. How do you think that noise affects Giant Pandas? Should the conservation of animals be more important than tourism? What if tourism dollars can help save more pandas? What do you think?