At the Chengdu Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding in China, visitors will find "panda-monium" at an exhibit housing about 100 of the endangered black and white bears. NY1's Valarie D'Elia filed the following report.
Chengdu in Southwest China is the capital of Sichuan province and the home to, among other things, spicy Sichuan cuisine.
But pandas in captivity at the Chengdu Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding are content to munch on the leaves, stems and shoots of bamboo.
Visitors who get an early start can view the lovable furballs, while they actively stuff their cute faces.
The research base is a non-profit dedicated to saving the endangered panda species through conservation and education.
"Well, I’m amazed at how many they have in captivity," says one visitor. "I felt I was lucky to see one in Washington D.C."
While an accurate count is anything but black and white, it's estimated that 80 percent of the world’s 1,000 or so remaining giant pandas reside in Sichuan province, with roughly 100 of them in captivity at the Panda Breeding Center.
The balance can be found in zoos around the world, in an exchange program known as Panda Diplomacy.
"They are always regarded as the messenger of friendship and peace," says Ken, a guide for the U.S. based tour operator, China Spree.
For travelers on the China Spree tour, the Chengdu Research Base is a highlight.
"It is fantastic to see the whole life span of the pandas, to see them in the incubators and then see them as adolescents and toddlers," says one traveler.
The center opened up in 1987 with six giant pandas plucked from the wild.
Besides birthing many new pandas since then, the reserve has spawned a sister city relationship with Phoenix, AZ, which gifted a bronze statue to Chengdu.