China, November 2013 – Travel Notes
Our tour around the Bifengxia Panda Center took us from Green Lake to the Old Breeding Center. At the Old Breeding Center, we met the four current residents – Lu Lu, Qing Qing, Guo Guo, and A Ling.
Lu Lu is a BIG strong male panda. He was wild-born, rescued in October 1999 and has fathered many cubs already (at least 20 confirmed). The introduction of his wild genes into the breeding program has been critical to keeping the gene pool diverse. His most “famous” offspring is likely Tao Tao, who was released into the wild in 2012. When we visited, we arrived just in time to watch him enjoy his snack of carrots.
Qing Qing was relaxing, munching on bamboo as we approached her enclosure. Qing Qing holds the record for being the longest gestation on record. Apparently, she was quite cozy in her mother’s womb since it was nearly a year before she decided to be born. She was born in February 2007 and was too small to join the 2006 kindergarten group but too big for the 2007 group. As a result, she lived on her own at Wolong. Her house collapsed around her during the 2008 earthquake but a keeper, who was a new father himself, rushed in and rescued her.
Guo Guo, you might recall, was the first panda to give birth after the 2008 earthquake. She was contentedly napping in the outdoor portion of her enclosure.
Finally, we paid a visit to A Ling. A Ling was one of the Shanghai World Expo pandas in 2010. She was showing off her “rolling” skills as we watched. Not certain whether she wanted to be indoors our out, she was happy to roll in an out of her doorway.