Yesterday, Ros joined us in Chengdu to visit the Giant Panda Breeding Station. A beautiful sunny day, the grounds were full of flowers like antirrhinum which we wouldn't expect to see until June in England, and huge stands of bamboo 20ft plus arching across the paths.
The wild panda population is about 2000, and there are 80 odd at this, the main captive panda breeding station. Truckloads of mountain bamboo stems and shoots are cut each day to feed the animals, they are also given apples and a special bread made of various grains. Their teeth and digestive systems are those of carnivores, so they can only digest 20% of the 40Kg of bamboo they eat daily. Really they should have become extinct a couple of million years ago, and if they weren't so cute looking I'm sure mankind wouldn't be trying to save them.
The centre also has red pandas, very cute, much smaller, less endangered and less fussy about their diet. Visitors walk through their enclosure and we were lucky to have a close encounter. Lastly, have a look at the video of us feeding the giant Koi carp!
In the afternoon we visited the Marquis Wu shrine. Once again, the tomb site is very old, 1,300 years, and the buildings have been restored and rebuilt over the centuries, most recently following a fire set by the Japanese during WW2. There were many very ancient bonsai trees and also a large number of painted wooden statues of famous statesmen from China's ancient history. Our guide was very knowledgeable and told the stories in an entertaining way, but we did wonder how a character from 200AD could be accurately portrayed in 1849.
The last stop was a recently built ancient shopping opportunity complete with Starbucks.
We then flew to Guilin, arriving at 11pm.