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Giant Panda Research Base at Bifengxia
is a giant panda breeding facility in Sichuan. “Bifengxia” means
Green Peak Canyon and is located within a forest area; the center was opened
in the Fall of 2003. It was built as a safeguard or back up location for
Wolong Panda Reserve, which housed the largest population of giant pandas.
Planners considered that there could be a threat of disease or infection
outbreak with such a concentrated locale of pandas at the Wolong Center.
The concern was that if some infection should start, it could destroy the
entire population in a short time. So the decision was made to split the
captive panda population into two separate groups to prevent this from occurring. Of
course, this location become of prime importance when the Wolong Center
was severely damaged during the Earthquake of May 2008.
Bifengxia now houses most of the giant panda population in captivity. It is home to U.S. born Hua Mei and Mei Sheng, who were relocated there after the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake damaged the Wolong Reserve.
After the earthquake, 40 pandas were evacuated to the Bifengxia. Originally this location housed primarily non-adult giant panda not yet of breeding age and also older pandas who had passed breeding age. Workers began construction of temporary enclosures and they added a breeding center next to the hospital. In less than six months, permanent enclosures had been built for the displaced pandas.
Bifengxia is located on almost 500 acres, so the giant pandas have a lot of room. There are several different areas now, including: Leopard Mountain, New Leopard Mountain, Bai Xiong Ping, Bi Tang (quarantine area), the Kindergarten and nursery, breeding center, Research Center and Hospital and Xiou Xi Tian which is the restaurant/hostel. The pandas have very large enclosures with both indoor and outdoor areas.
The volunteer program at Bifengxia allows people to have training and assist in a variety of duties. This may include:
- Cleaning panda areas and enclosures
- Cleaning general areas of the Panda Centers
- Preparing food for the pandas such as carrots, apples, panda bread and their nutritional biscuits
- Carrying lots of bamboo
- Sometimes you might be able to help collect behavioral data
If you would like to find out more about volunteering at Bifengxia during
a Lotus tour, you can view this pre-scheduled itinerary: Panda
Volunteer Heritage Trip. Or you may inquire about creating
your own itinerary at Your
Own Tour .
Regardless if you choose to request to hold a panda in Chengdu or spend more time by volunteering at Bifengxia, spending time around these adorable creatures captures the hearts and minds of even the most stoic among us.
Sources: Pandas International, Wikipedia, Louie Yi