Bifengxia is Chinese for “Green Peak Canyon.”
As the program at the Wolong Center continued to grow, not only was the center becoming crowded, but the threat of an outbreak of disease or infection was of great concern. If an epidemic were to occur among the captive Giant Pandas at the Wolong Center, it could destroy the entire population. Splitting the captive Giant Pandas of Wolong into two separate populations was planned to prevent this from occurring.
Construction of the Bifengxia Panda Center at Ya’an City, Sichuan Province began in October of 2002. Before construction, the Bifengxia base was a maiden forest with no power, no road and no housing. Dr. Tang Chunxiang, Assistant Director and Chief Veterinarian, described the base as a “blank paper, waiting for great events to occur.”
Like the Wolong center, the Bifengxia Giant Panda base is a branch of the China Conservation & Research Center for the Giant Panda, (CCRCGP) Wolong Nature Center, under the Department of Forestry. The Bifengxia center was completed in 2003 and covers nearly 400 hectares, which is about 988 acres.
Bifengxia was planned to house mostly sub-adults not yet in the breeding program and senior pandas, too old for breeding. However, a small breeding area was constructed in addition to the hospital.
Since Bifengxia has more land, the Giant Pandas are spread over several different areas: Leopard Mountain, New Leopard Mountain, Bai Xiong Ping, Bi Tang (quarantine area), the Kindergarten and nursery, breeding center, Research Center and Hospital. The enclosures are large with indoor and outdoor areas.
Before the earthquake of 2008, Bifengxia was still a small Panda Center with only 46 staff members.
After the Earthquake of May 2008
As the earthquake showed, planning for a second center was an excellent decision. Fourty Giant Pandas were evacuated to the Bifengxia base from Wolong following the earthquake. Workers began construction of 16 temporary pens and a kindergarten for young Giant Pandas. Twenty pens were completed by mid-October for those displaced by the earthquake. Since the enclosures were large, many could be divided in half to accommodate the new arrivals.
A breeding center with 14 enclosures was also constructed. Each enclosure has a camera system and is monitored in a control room by staff. Pandas International provided several of these cameras.
Currently there are 58 total enclosures at Bifengxia and has grown to about 144 staff members. The center has embraced it’s growing role in the survival of the giant panda. The pandas have trained staff on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
NOTE: There is also a Bifengxia Zoo on the way to the panda center that houses other animals but it is totally separate.