The following video captures the highlights of our visit to the Panda Breeding Research Base outside of Chengdu. Yalda Gaffari, my Dutch co-volunteer at ChangXing Primary School, and I spent two days in Chengdu hosted by a friend of Jessie’s named Kie. Kie is a young (25) building/home designer who heads an organization of young people interested in helping those in need. Many of these young people are university students and several of them helped Kie (whose spoken English is not so great) entertain us while we were there.

We spent most of one day at the Panda Research Base and it was very nice. Kie’s girlfriend Wei-Wei (who speaks a little English) and two other young ladies (Jane and Nancy, who speak English well), escorted us to the center which is about a 1.5 hour bus ride from where we were living. We all had a very nice day – I don’t think any of them had been to the Panda center before so they enjoyed it as much as we did.

The center is basically a zoo with only two types of animals; Great Pandas and Lesser (red) Pandas. The animals are nicely situated in large natural enclosures with plenty of room to hide from the tourists if they so wish. Pathways between exhibits are nicely landscaped: bamboo trees planted on both sides of the walkways create a shaded, tunnel effect. Distances between exhibits are a bit long, especially since it is very hilly there, so we got a lot of exercise that day 🙂

The center has been very successful in the breeding of Great Pandas: this year alone they have had 14 new cubs born (to 9 mothers) and they are expecting more.

The song accompanying the video is by a popular Tibetan-born folk singer named Han Hong. I first heard her music while riding in a teacher’s car on the way to an evening get-together and I really liked it. Jessie and my fellow-volunteers gave me a CD of her music for my birthday. My first version of this video used music from the movie Kung Fu Panda. However, YouTube blocked that video when it’s filters detected the use of unauthorized content. I really think that music worked better with this video but I’m just as happy to find a way to share the wonderful music of Han Hong.

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