The Chengdu Research Base of giant panda breeding is a hot spot for tourists in the Sichuan Province of China. Because of the cute and cuddly appearance of the giant panda, organizations like the World Wide Fund for Nature have adopted it as their symbol for species conservation. After researching giant pandas in JCC’s Biology of Mammals class, I was very excited to visit the center while interning in Chengdu.
(As a side note, and I include this for no other reason than that I find it fascinating: pandas do not actually have thumbs; instead they have five “fingers.” They grip bamboo with help from a pseudo-thumb that is actually an extension of the wrist bone. And now you know.)
There seems to be a lot of fuss over giant pandas, but to be honest, I think red pandas are way cuter! Unfortunately, I could not get a very good picture because they were all sleeping in trees and the sky was very bright (the sky never seems to be blue here-rather an intensely bright white). However, I urge you to look up a few pictures of the red panda because it’s totally adorable…Plus, you’re already on the computer, so just do it. ^_^ I really like that the red pandas are not caged in; they can literally go wherever they please in the center.
For some reason, there were also peacocks at the research base, which is funny because I thought I heard one and there it was, just hanging out. The one pictured above was strutting about and looking down on all of us spectators like we were its subjects or something…cocky little bird. I never did see any females, but there was a male every few hundred meters. One of the YMCA’s staff members, “Little” or “Xiao-xiao,” brought us to the base. Since she lives here, she’s been to it a few times, but she was never bored because, come on — pandas are awesome!
Apparently in China, the selfie game is strong. Everyone everywhere is taking selfies with monuments, statues, and animals. Little insisted on taking a picture of us taking a selfie with this statue. It felt weird, but since that’s the culture here, I guess I’m down for that. Haha ^_^
The first week in a new country is always jarring, but I have not felt any of this culture shock that I was warned about. I experienced a little jet-lag, but after 20+ hours of riding planes and literally sprinting to the next terminals because our flights were booked so close together, who wouldn’t be a little tired? And crabby…I was pretty darn crabby until I saw my beloved red pandas! I miss home a little though. I miss my cat. I miss my Netflix. I miss my PS3…I really miss my cat.
If you’re interested in the research base, check out their website in English!
For more information on how you can get an English instruction internship in China, contact Felix Muzza at FelixMuzza@mail.sunyjcc.edu or visit our International Internships page.