For many, the image of a panda is intrinsically linked with that of China. The Giant Panda Breeding Research Base (Chéngdū Dà Xióngmāo Fányù Yánjiū Jīdì, 成都大熊猫繁育研究基地) is hard at work keeping that image alive, by doing all they can to keep the outrageously cute species reproducing. 10 km (6 mi) from downtown Chengdu, the base is the best way to see and learn about these gentle and endangered creatures. Almost 100 pandas live there, with some red pandas sharing accomdations with the more famous giant variety. The animals are pampered by a staff whose primary goal is to get the notoriously low-libido animals to reproduce. Enticed procreation may not be enough to keep pandas alive out in the hills of Sichuan, but wild panda reserves have recently reported boosts in overall populations. To see the panda's working towards generational prosperity, visit during feeding time every morning between 8:30am and 10am.
Despite their status as a revered and protected member of China's enormous animal kingdom, the panda's remaining sanctuaries are beginning to suffer from serious environmental degradation and climate change. With the future uncertain, a tour to the panda base is a great place to find out what's being done to protect the pandas, and to learn what you can do to help. While visiting animals at a zoo-like park may seem like a counterproductive way to support the continuation of the species, keep in mind that it's not your everyday wildlife sanctuary, and that the health and prosperity of the panda's is the number one priority.
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