Today (Wednesday), the students and I visited the Chengdu Research base of Giant Panda Breeding. This is one of the primary sites in the world dedicated to breeding and maintaining the population of giant pandas, of which there are only about 1000 left living in the wild. Walking around the research center, we saw at least a dozen giant pandas and about a half dozen of the smaller red pandas. The giant pandas diet consists of primarily bamboo, requiring approximately 40 kg of bamboo a day. Because of this large amount of food required, pandas spend a large amount of time eating and resting. Several of the students paid additionally in order to pet a panda and to have their picture taken with one of them.
After lunch, we visited the Sanxingdui Historic Site. This is an archeological site of civilization that existed in this area about 4000 years ago but has since disappeared. They left behind a large number of artifacts including various jade pieces, pottery, and bronze statues and masks. The most interesting were the masks, which bear a striking resemblance to faces depicted in the ancient Incan culture.
Tomorrow, after visiting at Sichuan University, we will board a night train for Xi’an.