Chengdu Giant Panda Museum
Author: China Daily 2023-05-27
Do you love giant pandas but wonder why they have a sixth thumb, what it's called and why they are herbivores?


The answers are readily available at the Chengdu Giant Panda Museum, which opened at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. With a built area of 7,179 square meters and a display area of 4,342 sq m, it is believed to be the world's first interactive-experience museum with a giant panda theme.


(Photo by Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding )


The museum has exhibits about the history, habits and plight of the giant panda and efforts to rescue the species from extinction.


Visitors to the museum will learn that Jean Pierre Armand David, a French priest and naturalist, was the first Western explorer to discover and document giant pandas in 1869.


During the 12 years he lived in China, he named and introduced 68 new bird species to the West, as well as over 100 insects and other mammals, including milu, also known as Pere David's deer, and the golden snub-nosed monkey.


He sent a giant panda specimen back to Henri Milne Edwards at the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, who, in 1870, published a paper declaring the giant panda a new species that eventually came to be called Ailuropoda melanoleuca.


During the Pleistocene Epoch, which began about 1.6 million years ago, pandas enjoyed a wide distribution from northern Myanmar to eastern China, and even as far north as the region around Beijing.


Today, pandas survive in just six mountain ranges in the provinces of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu, with their habitat totaling about 23,050 square kilometers.


The six mountain ranges are the Qinling, Minshan, Qionglai, Daxiangling, Xiaoxiangling and Liangshan mountains. The largest single area still remaining for wild giant pandas is the Minshan Mountain range, which covers an area of 9,603 sq km.


The six areas are highly fragmented due to human habitation and activities. With most valleys inhabited by humans, many panda populations are isolated in narrow belts of bamboo no more than 1,000 to 1,200 meters wide.


Therefore, their actual geographical range is much smaller than generally depicted on maps.


Source: China Daily

Edited by Guo Jiamei