Panda Stories: Holding Paws with a Panda Cub

Filed in Stress Busters

Wolong Panda Centre
12 September 2007

During my first panda volunteer trip – Wolong in September 2007 – I had gone into the Kindergarten Yard 1 to meet my adopted panda cub, Yoong Ping aka Feng Yi*. After playing with her (more like chasing her and trying to get her to pay some attention to me), I was told my visit was over. I asked to have my picture taken with her. This was an “official” portrait taken on a bench, either side-by-side with the cub, or with the cub on my lap. I’d seen such pictures on flickr and wanted one with her, even though there were already all these “play” pictures of me trying to hold onto her while she tried to crawl or run from me.

I was told I couldn’t have that “official” portrait with her because she was not allowed to leave the yard. I was told if she was let out, she would continue to crawl away from the door, resist all attempts to stop her, and literally not look back. Instead, I was offered another cub to sit on the bench with me.

This other cub, named Lang Lang, was the exact opposite of my adopted cub. While she had kept trying to crawl away from me, he just sat next to me on the bench, hardly moving except for his paw and mouth. What kept him quiet was the piece of wowotou (special steamed bread made with a mix of flour, including bamboo, and other nutrients) in his paw that he kept putting in his mouth. He just sat there, munching and dropping crumbs all over his belly while I cuddled him, played with his ears and even held his paws. This close-up of my gloved hands cupping his paw came out of that photo session.

*I’d named her Yoong Ping in memory of my parents and niece, while her official name is Feng Yi. Read more about my first visit with her here.