Baby pandas are potentially the cutest, most charismatic animals on earth. When panda cubs are born at US zoos, they cause “pandemonium.” For example, when Tai Shan, the first cub to survive birth at the Washington DC National Zoo was shown to the public, 13,000 free timed entry tickets were issued. These tickets were gone within 2 hours, and some could be found for sale on eBay and craigslist, and sold for $500 each. On our China expeditions, we visit 4 different panda breeding bases which ensures we get to see many, many cubs very close. It is important for us to plan on visiting multiple bases because the number of cubs at each location is impossible to predict in advance. Our fall trips are excellent because we see tiny cubs which have just been brought from the indoor nurseries to the outdoor “panda kindergartens,” and we see them just learning to walk. In the spring, cubs are around 8-9 months old, and are still very small, but they are more active and we watch them run, climb and play together. Here are the highlights from the trip I guided last month….
The pandas never disappoint! I look forward to October trips when we see the new crop of tiny newborns. It is exciting to see this intensive breeding program succeeding in building up the still very small population (350) of captive pandas, some of which will be released into the wild…..
Keep exploring! Brad