Stress Busters

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My one-in-a-million photo

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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?

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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

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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.

Three Pandas

Filed in General, Stress Busters, Travels

This trip to Bifengxia Panda Base, I’ve focused on just three pandas – my two adopted pandas, and the two pandas coming to Malaysia.

Wait … that’s four pandas, not three. Well, there’s an overlap. Feng Yi, one of my two adopted pandas, is also one of the two pandas coming to Malaysia.

Today was the last day of this trip, and I went to visit Feng Yi in the morning, and Gong Zhu in the afternoon. Fu Wa, Feng Yi’s neighbour, was included in the morning visit.

Feng Yi, adopted panda coming to Malaysia


The keeper told her, “only one piece of wowotou!”
She replied, “one piece here … ” (pointing to one palm) and “one piece here … ” (pointing to the other palm)

Fu Wa and Feng Yi at the howdy fence


It was a treat to see them interacting from Feng Yi’s side of the fence, altho she was walking away in this photo

Fu Wa, panda coming to Malaysia


Looking a little lost here, as if wondering, “where did she go?”

Gong Zhu, adopted panda


Pausing in her ‘booing to give me a bye-bye smile

Giant panda dental hygiene?

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Feng Yi looks like she’s flossing. Bamboo floss?

(Photo taken in Bai Xiong Ping [White Bear Plain], Bifengxia Panda Base, on 1 October 2012)