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I want a PANDA for Christmas!

CHINA | Sunday, 21 September 2008 | Views [961]

Sorry for the limited updates and info, have had little internet access the last week here in Cheng Du.

The Panda reserve is an amazing place to visit. I highly recommend that you go on your own rather than on a tour. It is easy to watch the pandas for hours and hours and on the tour you are rushed thru the areas pretty quick which got us pretty annoyed. The tour can cost you 80 RMB (but depends on your hostel). Entrance to the park is 30RMB only.

It takes you 2 bus rides and a rickshaw to get to the reserve to do it on your own - but worth it.

The pandas are an amazing animal. So cute and charming, but pretty helpless really. I was amazed at how dependant they are on humans to survive compared to other wildlife that are born KNOWING instictively what to do to survive. But perhaps that is why they are so endangered.

Facts about the PANDA:

1. The Pandas were once meat eating, however evolved to only eat bamboo. However it is not ANY bamboo, it is a specific kind of BAMBOO which in the wild has 2 months of the year which it just is NOT around. So they pandas I guess can starve to death in that period...

2. The Pandas eat ONLY the ONE bamboo, but their stomachs have not evolved to eat this. They are capable to disgest only 3% of the BAMBOO to be of use to them, which is why they are SOOOO sleepy all day or sitting eating BAMBOO. On the reserve they try to grow the bamboo to be of better use to the pandas, but still....

3. The PANDAS by nature are solitary animals and rarely will they socialise with other pandas. Making 'marriage' between couple pandas VERY difficult to come by.

4. If by chance 2 panads meet and HAPPEN to like each other, the reproductive process is made difficult because the womb of the female is SO big, while the male pandas genitals is SO small. Not so easy to accidentally get pregnant then (unlike Shelly and Gez hehe)

5. IF the female does get pregnant, she doesn't realise it. In captivity neither does the reasearches since she is such a big animal while the baby is so tiny making NO difference in her appearane.

6. In fact, often what happens is that the female is one day just doing her normal routine of happily munching on bamboo when 'wow' out pops a tiny pink baby! Only this is to the horror of the mother who has NO idea what is happening and will in fact try to kill the new born baby. Researches have had to go in and save many a baby from its mother.

7. It is not till the 2nd or even 3rd birth that the female realises what is happening and is capable of taking care of the baby on her own. She will even love it gently and happily doesn't eat anything giving all to the child.

8. However for the first born, if they are lucky and survive they are taken care of by the researchers. They have no fur, no ability to move and needs assistance to pee or poo.... they get tapped on the tummy every day to help them. They are manually fed also - like a human baby.

9. Usually only one baby per birth. However when there is 2, often the mother only has the ability to care for one. They other is cared for by the researchers. So I guess in the wild they just die..? The researchers are really proud of one Mum though who does care for BOTH her twin girls equally all by herself!

10. The baby is independant (well sort of) at the age of 1.5 years - then they live away from the mother. They are of child birthing age at 7 years.

11. Nearly 100% of the pandas in the wild have stomach parasites like worms or even multiple strings. So they often die quite early. SO making it another hinderance to their ability to reproduce on their own.

I guess they are really still only alive because they are so cute and us humans are working hard to keep them around.

Indeed I fell totally in love with them - watching them smile while they eat. They really seem to have expressions on their faces. I wanted SO much to hug one to hold one. Not really possible though. For 1000RMB you can touch one with ONE hand which is covered with a plastic bag. So I figure nah.. I wanted to really FEEL them, not just touch them thru a bag. Besides we are the poor backpackers, hehe not in our budget.

Ciao for now! Go panda GO!

Tags: cheng du, panda

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