The giant panda, regarded as one of China's National Treasures, is on the verge of extinction. Today there are fewer than 1,000 giant pandas living in the world. The giant panda is the symbol of eco-environmental conservation. Visotors can see this reclusive animal can be found in the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, which is almost on the itinararies of any Chengdu tours. We hope, with their cute faces, unusual beauty and grace, giant pandas can bring visitors to China pleasure and enjoyment.
Paleontologists have discovered fossil remains that indicate that over 8 million years ago ancestors of the giant panda were living in China. That is the reason why the giant panda is has been called one of China's "living fossil" by historians.
The giant panda's lifespan in the wild is unknown, but in captivity they average more than 20 years. Due to the constant expansion of human activity, the habitat of giant panda has been gradually shrinking and they are now only found in the southern part of Gansu province and northwest part of the Sichuan basin.
The giant panda has lived for millennia in the dense bamboo woodlands on the eastern edge of the Qingzang Highland in western China, living a "hermit-like" existence. Due to its unique physical form, and peculiar characteristics, scientists have never been able to classify the giant panda as belonging to the bear or raccoon family, or whether it needs to have its own classification.
The giant panda looks quite plump. Its body length is about 160 to 180 centimeters, and weighs 80 to 125 kilograms. The giant panda's colorization is simple but elegant. Normally, the giant panda is very gentle and reclusive, like a shy lady. When the panda meets strangers, it often covers its face with its palm, or lowers its head to hide its face. After giving birth however, a female giant panda can be very aggressive using her teeth and claws to protect her infant.
Giant pandas are considered carnivores, but 99% of their food consists of bamboo. They prefer bamboo shoots. Since bamboo is low in nutrition, giant pandas attempt to reduce the sphere of their activities, to use less energy. These solitary animals spend most of their time eating. Giant pandas are excellent tree climbers, and are very fond of play.
Giant pandas have developed a set of unique characteristics that have enabled them survive extreme cold and dampness. The hair on the body of a giant panda is exceptionally thick, and the giant panda's skin secretes an oily substance that coats their hair making it waterproof, which allows them to comfortably sleep in the snow, and consequently they do not hibernate during the winter. Due to these unique adaptations, the giant panda has no problem living in bamboo forests with an average humidity level of over 80 percent.
Giant pandas live alone and scattered, rather than living in herds. Because of this, the giant panda is often called "the recluse in the bamboo forest". They do not move too far from their home base, and live their entire lives in a small area. The giant panda can eat at anytime, and sleep in any place. They have a truly easygoing lifestyle.
Over 80% of the world's giant pandas live in Sichuan Province. The Chinese government now has established a Giant Panda Breeding Research Base in Chengdu to breed and save this precious species.
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding covers an area of over 359,000 square meters and it is now under expanding for an area to over 1,999,000 square meters. As the first ex-situ conservation project for giant pandas, this base has not only dedicated itself to giant panda conservation, but has also endeavored to combine natural scenery and man-made landscapes to create wonderful and humane living areas for giant pandas, red pandas, and other Chinese endangered animals.
This panda research breeding base has state of the art facilities. It appears to be a beautiful landscaped park. Luxuriant bamboo grow everywhere around the base. Here more than 80 pandas live a protected life, where visitors can view them eating, sleeping or playing. Visitors can also learn more about this precious species in the giant panda museum. The panda hospital can also be visited, where there is a 7,000 square meter educational space for the foreign and domestic visitors. In these learning areas, visitors will come to know more about the work being done to preserve this lovely animal.
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