Nothing prepares you for the full-on assault of cuteness. What appear to be giant cuddly toys proceed to strip, shred and crunch bamboo with gusto. Then see the even-cuter cubs swing by their legs in swaying trees, reclining precariously on the most spindly, fragile branches, eliciting “oohs” and “aahs” from a rapt audience.
Few places in the world tend to these adorables as well as the 92-acre lakeside Panda Research and Breeding Centre, set amid bamboo groves on the outskirts of Chengdu. Its stated goal is to “be a world-class research facility, conservation education center, and international educational tourism destination.” The Chengdu centre is accessible and has a wide range of pandas of all ages from those in incubators to toddlers and adults.
If you want, Imperial Tours can arrange for you to buy one and take him home - a variety of different-sized cuddly toys are available at the gift shop.