CHENGDU, Aug. 8 – The name North Panda Avenue itself gives hint why it is Chengdu’s busiest road particularly during weekends and holidays.

The road, also named Xiongmao Avenue, leads tourists to the 70-hectare Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding or Chengdu Panda Base that was built in 1987 to protect and breed endangered wildlife particularly giant and red pandas.

Located 10 kilometers from Sichuan’s capital city Chengdu, the Chengdu Panda Base is considered “Paradise for Panda, Fairland for Human Beings”, making it one of Sichuan’s top tourist attractions.

”We have no exact number how many tourists come every day but last year, the base has more than three million visitors,” a tour guide told Asian journalists during a recent visit in the popular Chengdu Panda Base.

The Chengdu Panda Base has  facilities like fodder room, medical station, breeding area, delivery room, research laboratories, training center and luxurious ‘villa residences’ for giant pandas.

It has initially saved six sick and starving giant pandas in the 1980s and since then, the base has bred 148 giant pandas through innovated technology.

At present, Chengdu Panda Base is home to 183 pandas including the red pandas that have wild population of 5,000 throughout the world.

The giant panda, on the other hand, has over 2,000 wild population with 80 percent of them live in Sichuan, mostly in the mountain ranges where average temperature is below 20’C throughout the year.

In 1993, the Giant Panda Museum was constructed inside the Base to improve public awareness through precious pictures and history materials which claim giant panda has lived on earth for at least eight million years.

It was in 1869 that thegiant panda became known outside China when French missionary Amand David found the lovely animal in the area now known as Baoxing County in Sichuan province.

Most of the time, the tourists find the cute and adorable giant pandas either eating bamboo or sleeping because they eat for 12 hours and sleep for 10 hours while spending only two hours for playing.

The diet of giant pandas is 99 percent bamboo and they have the ability to choose bamboo species with highest nutritional value. A giant panda can eat 30 to 40 kilograms each day.

”Giant pandas are not only cute and adorable but they have extraordinary characteristics,” Zaw Ye Aung, a journalist from Myanmar, commented after taking photos with giant pandas.

”This place (Chengdu Panda Base) is really popular because there are so many people here even it is a weekday,” Aminath Ibrahim, also a journalist from Maldives, observed.

A newly-born panda is color pink with sparse white hair and weighs only 100 to 150 grams. After a month, the thick white and black fur will start to cover the body of the panda cub.

Giant Pandas are not only China’s national treasures but have been considered ambassadors of goodwill, building bridges of friendship between China and the rest of the world.

In 1972, panda fever hit a new height when the Chinese government gifted visiting US President Richard Nixon with a pair of giant pandas.

The Chengdu Panda Base has earned recognitions and honors, including “Top Global 500 Bases” title awarded by the United Nations Environment Programme.

The base was also evaluated as World Natural Heritage by the World Tourism Organization in 1998 and listed as AAAA tourism attraction in 2006.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which has been using panda logo since 1961, has recognized the Chinese government’s conservation efforts that led to the remarkable growth of the giant panda population.

Aside from Chengdu Panda Base, China has put up Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries, the world’s largest and most intact giant panda habitat with an area of 9,245 square kilometers, that have been inscribed onto the World Heritage List in 2006.

For the last 37 years, at least 41 giant panda nature reserves have been established in Sichuan, thus giving the province the recognition as the home of  giant pandas. Jelly F. Musico//PNA)