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The giant panda is the symbol of China. Once spread across the entire country, these bamboo eaters are now confined to the uninhabited forests of central China. If you’d like to see one, your best bet is to visit one of the breeding centres around Chengdu, where information and knowledge of the pandas are gathered and from where the creatures are eventually returned to the wild. The most famous centre is the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
Poachers, deforestation and rapid population growth have made life difficult for pandas in recent times: they are threatened with extinction. That’s why a number of research centres were established in order to maintain the panda population. Dozens of pandas now live in research centres on the outskirts of Chengdu, such as the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. The centre looks like a nature reserve, where the pandas lead relatively free and independent lives. They chew on the bamboo that is fed to them in the morning and they usually sleep in the afternoon. Early morning is therefore the best time for a visit.