Stress Busters

Posts filed under Stress Busters

New bedsheets await 2013 cubbies

Filed in News, Stress Busters

Bifengxia Panda Base took delivery of three new incubators from Pandas International on 13 May 2013 (what a lovely date).

Each incubator comes with a bedsheet.

bedsheets-bfx-130513

When I saw the bedsheet, I was reminded of the familiar one I’ve photographed over the years.

September 2007 (Wolong Panda Centre)
incubator-sept2007

August 2008 (Bifengxia Panda Base)
incubator-aug2008

September 2010 (Bifengxia Panda Base)
incubator-sept2010

September 2012 (Bifengxia Panda Base)
incubator-sept2012

There is no incubator photo for 2009 as I’d visited in May that year when the nursery was closed (no cubbies until after July), and for some reason, no incubator photo/s for 2011 even though I’d visited in August and September that year.

I look forward to seeing the 2013 cubbies resting on the new blue bedsheets.

Five years ago today

Filed in Personal, Stress Busters

Today is the 5th anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake. Today is one of the reasons I am here in Ya’an – to be with the giant pandas and their keepers who lost their home in Woloing Panda Centre that was extensively damaged by the 5.12 earthquake.

Thanks to the existence of Bifengxia Panda Base, Wolong was able to keep most of its pandas together. Bifengxia was originally set up in 2003 “to avoid panda fatalities and the spread of infectious diseases in the Wolong captive population … Several pandas were taken to the base in order to secure the safety of the entire population as a whole.” (Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda official guide)

This means Wolong’s captive population is located in two places at any time – an excellent strategy, as it turned out, especially in light what happened during the 5.12 earthquake in 2008.

There are many things i am grateful for. Giant pandas, Wolong and especially Bifengxia Panda Base are some of them.

My one-in-a-million photo

Filed in Stress BustersTags: , , ,

During my first panda volunteer trip, to Wolong Panda Centre in September 2007, there were four pandas I knew and was up close with, the three I was helping to look after – Ling Ling, Hai Zi and Xi Xi – and my adopted panda, Feng Yi. I made sure to ask the names of the pandas I was looking after; years from now, I wanted to remember not just that I helped look after pandas, but who they were. There were also others I knew by name (from the Web) but did not actually see, or if I saw them, did not know who they were.

During my free time, I would walk around the Centre, look at the other pandas and photograph them. In my photographs from that trip is a set showing pandas in outdoor yards on the other side of the breeding centre. I had worked at the breeding centre (aka maternity ward after the breeding season) as Hai Zi was in confinement there, and Xi Xi was thought to be pregnant and was living there, too. The yards were connected to the rooms in the maternity ward, so these pandas in the yards were either new or expecting mothers.

I recently showed these photos to a good friend who has a knack for recognising pandas. She identified each of these pandas to me. Among them was a panda who would never be photographed again. I got three photos of this panda, and here’s my favourite, and probably my one-in-a-million photo.

Unknown to me at the time, I had photographed Mao Mao who will never be photographed again because she died in the 2008 earthquake that devastated a big part of Sichuan Province and caused extensive damage to the Wolong Panda Centre.

This photograph was taken on 9 September 2007. Wen Yu, her last cub, was born 15 days later on 24 September 2007.

Where in Bifengxia is Fu Hu?

Filed in Stress Busters

Fu Hu, the second giant panda cub born in Vienna Zoo, Austria, has been returned to China, and arrived safely in Bifengxia Panda Base on 8 November 2012. He is now in quarantine but where?

I thought he would be in the same area where his big brother Fu Long spent his quarantine in late 2007 – a pre-fabricated “green house” somewhere behind the Research Centre grounds. Three other overseas-returned giant pandas had also spent their quarantine in the same area – Tai Shan in February 2010, and Su Lin and Zhen Zhen in September 2010. But photos by Jeroen Jacobs of the Giant Panda Zoo web site showed Fu Hu’s transport carrier at the entrance of the Research Centre building.


With thanks to Jeroen Jacobs of Giant Panda Zoo web site for permission to use this photo

A query to Jeroen confirmed that Fu Hu will be spending his quarantine time inside this building. But where, exactly?

Apart from the research centre, the building also houses the animal hospital, rooms on the top floor for keepers on 24-hour watch during the birthing season at the breeding centre nearby, as well as two rooms with outdoor yards. Fu Hu is in one of these two rooms, but which one exactly?

A video of Fu Hu’s arrival in Bifengxia shows him inside the room.


Screencap from this video

From the position of the connecting door to the yard, this is the room next to the entrance to the hospital.

This is the same room where Yong Ba was living after she was returned from Shenzhen. I saw her here during my September 2011 visit.


Yong Ba coming into her room during my September 2011 visit. She passed away about 10 weeks later.

Another occupant was Wu Gang who was living here when I saw him during my August 2008 visit.


Another occupant of Fu Hu’s current room, Wu Gang lived there when I volunteered in August 2008. I think he was one of the first occupants as pandas were still being moved from Old Wolong after the 12 May earthquake that year.

The previous occupant before Fu Hu moved in is now in New Wolong in Gengda Town.

So now we know Fu Hu’s exact location in Bifengxia Panda Base.

Adventure World Shirahama hero panda mother Mei Mei’s mother

Filed in Stress Busters

Su Su, born approximately in 1983 and captured in Mabian on 16 May 1986, now lives in Chengdu Zoo, Chengdu, China, where she is well-cared for. She is blind in one eye.


From a distance …


Closer …


Closer still …


Closest I can get from the glass window with my 24X zoom Panasonic Lumxi FZ-100

Thanks to Leo uu for letting me know where Su Su is living. I braved Chengdu’s massive traffic jams and roadworks to visit her this morning on the last day of my current trip to China.