Once you decided to do your paid internship in China and to spend a few months in Chengdu, you probably will also decide to visit the Giant Panda research base, since the Giant Panda is the symbol of Chengdu after all. But what a lot of people don’t know is, that there is also another animal, which is unfortunately much more underestimated than justified. And that is the red panda.
The red panda, in Chinese called xiǎoxióngmāo (小熊猫), which means as much as small cat bear, literally don’t have that much in common with its bigger brother except from the name. It is a small animal with a flat snout, white spots on the face and a bushy fur, which vary from copper red to reddish brown and black. The red panda actually more reminds on a mix of fox and racoon than on a panda.
The naturally habitat of the red panda is the area of Sichuan and the southern Himalaya. It is estimated, that there are still only about 10.000 free living exemplars due to poaching and deforestation. As they are very heat sensitive, they spend most of the day in the shadow of trees or in tree holes. In the dawn they get more active and start after an extensive grooming to search for food like bamboo, fruits, berries, grasses, nuts and sometimes even small birds or eggs.
If you want to watch some red pandas while doing your internship in China, then visit the Giant Panda Research Base in Chengdu with its red panda enclosures. There you can watch them climbing tress, playing with each other and searching for new adventures. There is even one special enclosure, where you can pass through by walking on boardwalk. On both sides of the boardwalk is a fence with holes so the red pandas sometimes even walk with you side by side!
If you want to go to the Giant Panda research base to visit the red pandas, then you can take the bus line 9, which is departing from the northern central station in Chengdu and change after six stations to line 87 or line 198a. The bus is directly holding in front of the Giant Panda research base.