Nanjing is now home to the largest population of pandas in Jiangsu Province, as a local safari park gets set to open to the public its new enclosure for China’s national treasure.
“No one can say no to you, Panda!”, was typical of internet users’ reactions, upon release of the news that ten pandas were to be settled in the Ziqing Lake Safari Park, in Tangshan, just outside of Nanjing.
All ten are from the China Giant Panda Conservation Research Centre in Sichuan Province, while six are “overseas returnees” born in Austria, Malaysia and the United States. The ten include the well-loved Fubao (福豹) and Nuannuan (暖暖), as well as famous twins, Fufeng (福凤) and Fuban (福伴).
It has been a long time coming, since it was as long ago as June last year that the park officially obtained permission for the breeding of giant pandas through the approval of the State Forestry Administration. With construction of the new space complete, the ten giant pandas were airlifted from Chengdu to Nanjing within just 1 day and settled in the Park’s new Giant Panda Pavilion at the end of last month.
The new Pavilion gives each panda 500 square metres (sqm) of living space, including 150 sqm that is indoor and air conditioned.
Mimicking the native environment of giant pandas, the Pavilion features a wrap-around large bamboo forest with grassland and shrubs. For visitors enjoyment, therein the Panda Plaza, Panda Restaurant, Science Museum and four giant panda venues, built on the theme of the four seasons, combining different stages of panda growth, giving visitors an immersive sensory experience.
In the Panda Restaurant, people can enjoy the daily life of giant pandas while dining. The science museum is both educational and entertaining, while there is also a volunteer activity area, indoor playground and the Yangtze crocodile exhibition area.
Just as with people, pandas have their own personalities, especially when it comes to food. Some are foodies, some are picky eaters. Nuannuan is one such example. For her, its the highest quality mangosteen, or nothing. The exotic fruit has therefore been especially sourced from Anji in neighbouring Zhejiang Province, from where it is delivered to Nanjing every 3 days, to ensure its freshness.
To see the pandas for yourself, aside from private transportation, the best option will be to take Metro Line 2 to Ma Qun (exit 1), and then board bus D19 from Ma Qun bus station to Tangshan Rongdong station. The park is 600-700 metres from the bus stop.
Note that the park is not yet open. Trial operation is scheduled to begin later this month.
China has attached great importance to the protection and management of pandas. From 2003 to 2013, the number of pandas in the wild increased from 1,569 to 1,864, while the number in captivity rose from 164 to 375. Despite the increase, the State Forestry Administration says that as panda habitats are largely lost and isolated from each other, this, combined with climate change, means the threat and endangered conditions of pandas cannot be ignored. They remain an endangered species.