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Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
Chengdu, China

Pandas are believed to have first evolved some two to three million years ago, even briefly coexisting with the wooly mammoth. They hit their stride a few hundred thousand years ago, when its habitat ranged from northern China to Southeast Asia, in today’s Myanmar and Vietnam. Today, its habitat is much smaller, mostly in Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces in China.

85% of the world’s giant pandas live in Sichuan province. Amazingly, throughout periods of environmental degradation, climate change, and geographic shifts, the panda managed to retain their ancient features. This is one of the reasons they are scientifically valued: they are living fossils.

80% of the Giant Panda’s habitat was destroyed in only 40 years due to humans clear-cutting their forest habitat between 1950-1990. Now, researchers believe there are only about 1,000 animals left in the wild.

For financial and cultural reasons, the Chinese government has  set up 50 giant panda research centers.  The Chengdu Panda Base was founded in 1987. It started with 6 giant pandas that were rescued from the wild. By 2008, it had 124 panda births, and the captive panda population has grown to 83. 

Pandas struggle to procreate because of low-sex drives and infertility issues. But in recent years scientists have discovered that pandas do have a strong libido - but only for three days of the year, when the females are on heat. The rest of the time, males and females cannot abide one another and will fight viciously when put together.

Photos taken about December 15, 2013
Weather conditions:  Rain, fog.

Twice a day, workers replenish bamboo for the pandas to eat.

Note viewing area at left.

Pandas like to eat lying down.

Immediately after birth. baby pandas are cared for in this hospital setting

Photos and their arrangement 2013 Chuck LaChiusa
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