China, November 2013 – Travel Notes
After our visit with Mei Lan, we made our way toward Leshan (“Happy Mountain”) – about 75 miles from Chengdu. Our destination, of course, was the Mount Emei Xianxhi Zhujian Ecological Park (峨眉山仙芝竹尖生态园).
The Mount Emei Xianzhi Zhujian Ecological Park is a 300-plus-acre tourist park located in the eastern outskirts of the city of Emei, about 5 miles from the city center. The park is primarily a showcase for local tea with a breathtaking teahouse and a local production facility onsite, but tucked away within the park there is also a dinosaur museum and an area named ” Panda Hall ” – we of course headed that direction!
The pathways are lined with a number of “informational panels” about pandas and their history. Whimsical panda statues can be found throughout the park (along with an occasional dinosaur). We may have taken a wrong turn or three on our way to find the pandas, but the grounds are gorgeous so the detours were definitely not a bad thing.
The Panda exhibit was built in 2011 and consists of two main buildings. The first building has both indoor and outdoor enclosures designed for two pandas. The second building includes an additional outdoor/indoor enclosure and a panda-themed exhibition/educational area.
The three indoor enclosures are huge, air-conditioned, and feature wooden enrichment structures, tire swings, bamboo “stands” and a watering hole (thank you Jerome Pouille – www.pandas.fr – for the photo). On the day we visited, all three pandas were outside enjoying the cool weather so we didn’t get to see them enjoying these areas.
After all of our detours, we had finally made our way to the Pandas.
In the first enclosure, we met Xiang Lin. Born in 2009 to parents Hai Zi and Ling Ling, Xiang Lin was wandering around his yard when we first arrived. He must have borrowed an invisibility cloak soon after, however, since he managed to hide completely within his enclosure for almost the entire time we visited. We did manage to catch this quick shot of him before he disappeared one last time.
Ping Ping (called Min Min at the park) made up for Xiang Lin’s elusive nature and put on quite the performance for us. She is quite the acrobat and drew a huge crowd with her tree climbing antics. Ping Ping was a 2010 World Expo panda. She and her brother An An were the first set of twins born (to Guo Guo) following the 2008 earthquake.
As the crowd continued to grow around the “Ping Ping show”, we turned our attention in the opposite direction – to Lu Lin, son of Ye Ye and Lu Lu. He was quite content to simply wander slowly around his yard and munch on bamboo.
While we could have stayed and watched the pandas for hours, our schedule (and exhaustion) pushed us onward – but we did manage to stop for a tea tasting on our way out!