China will build its first panda national park, announced by the Chinese government last month. The 27,134-square-kilometer (or 10,500 square miles) park covers parts of Sichuan province in the southwest and parts of Gansu and Shaanxi provinces in the northwest.
Perhaps there’s nothing cuter on the planet than a baby panda, and recently CGTN’s Nathan King got to play with some at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. But behind these super cute faces is a global network focused on panda breeding and research.
China’s panda diplomacy dates back to the Tang Dynasty when two pandas were sent to the Japanese Emperor.
Today’s science plays an important role. Pandas are sent around the world often from Chengdu to breed, spark research and raise awareness of the plight of giant pandas in the wild.
Pandas born at zoos outside China are considered on loan and usually returned to places like Chengdu by the time they turn four years old.
Adventure World Wakayama, a mega theme park in Japan, had the most panda births outside of China. It’s now the center with the most ‘returned’ pandas, six have been sent back to China.
When U.S.-born pandas are returned, they’ll have to work with their new keepers to learn Chinese and kick any habits they may have picked up.
Mei Lun and Mei Huan are twins born in Atlanta, Georgia. While in the U.S., they loved to eat a certain brand of crackers. Now that they’re back in China, their trainers have been trying to get them to switch over to Chinese bread.