Tai Shan is leaving National Zoo today for the Giant Panda Breeding Center, Chengdu, China. Video of Tai Shan at the National Zoo made him the most popular Panda ever. Thousands tuned in daily to watch his clumsy antics. All pandas are the property of the Chinese government, on loan for breeding programs around the world, and all must return home. Pandas live in the mountains of Sichuan mainly, but are represented in two other provinces.
Continued appropriation of their bamboo woods habitat has led to designation of them as an endangered species. Captive breeding has reasonable success, but there is not enough habitat to warrant reintroduction to the wild. China’s increasing population leaves little hope of that changing.
We recently rode our bicycle from Chengdu across the SW China mountains (Himalayas and Tibetan plateau). We began in Chengdu and visited the Giant Panda Breeding Center. Lucky, our stuffed panda, made the visit with and was not sure what to think of the really really big (to him) pandas. We did not see any pandas as we climbed through the life zones of the mountains. Though we certainly saw enough bamboo, it was interspersed with villages, farms and other human uses of the land.
Some Photos from the Giant Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu: