By Amanda Sinclair
Behind and to the side of the beautiful West Lake, almost hidden away from the public eye, lies Panda World. If it were not for the sign by the street pointing direction vaguely you could easily be forgiven for not knowing that it was there.
After paying the admission fee to the center, you walk up a moderate slope, and then enter the main entrance of Panda World. There is a building, informing you of the history of Panda World, and a glass enclosure on either side of it, housing a Giant Panda each. These magnificent creatures are iconic of China, and so beautiful to behold.
Panda’s rarely seem to do anything energetic, apart from eating, so if you would like to see a Panda at it’s best, most energetic, go around feeding times – so early in the morning, or at lunch time.
These Pandas offer you a first glimpse at the beautiful creatures, though you instantly feel slightly sorry for them, in what you may perceive to be inadequately sized enclosures. You then proceed to walk around the complex, which takes roughly 60 – 90 minutes at a leisurely pace.
Panda World, is based on Dameng Mountain, so there is a lot of inclines and declines when walking around. You will see several Panda enclosures, and Red Panda’s – both of which enjoy considerably more comfortable surroundings than other bears in Panda World.
The Sun Bears, Black Bear, and Brown Bear, are all housed near each other, and close to an arena where they sometimes put on performances. If they are not performing, you don’t get a clear view of them, but you can glimpse them, each in their own caged area.
There is a slightly dilapidated museum in Panda World that looks at the history of Panda World and the Giant Pandas. For a breed that is synonymous with China, they have not always been treated with the kindness and reverence you would expect. Forced to perform, and subjected to numerous medical tests, most of which look painful, which is all documented in graphic detail over the three floors of the museum.
Whilst some of the animals and bears, those of a lesser status than that of the Giant Panda are treated in conditions some would consider inhumane, in context of place and time, you have to also agree that a lot of the animals are also treated with kindness. All animals are fed, and cared for, and housed within a safe environment.
I would recommend visiting this place, to see the Giant Pandas, if you are in Fuzhou and are wanting to see some Giant Pandas. However, there are better places within China to see Giant Pandas, such as Chengdu or Beijing, but whilst you are here, it would seem like a good idea to take this opportunity, and start your love affair with these cuddly Pandas. They are a truly beautiful and magnificent creature, that needs all the help they can get in staying alive.
Address: 88 Mengshan Road, Fuzhou
Location: On the base of Dameng Mountain, next to Xihu.
Opening Times: 09:00am to 5:00pm
Admission: 30RMB per person, with concessions for the elderly, students and children.
Transport: Take a us to Xihu and walk the short distance, or else a taxi will take you to the main entrance.