CHENGDU: People visiting this capital city of Southwest China's Sichuan
Province will one day have the opportunity to up close and personal with one of
the world's most endangered species at the world's first panda town.
The 2-sq-km project will be part of the planned 30-sq-km Chengdu Giant Panda
International Ecological Tourism Resort, said Yang Feifei, an official with the
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
In addition to the so-called panda town, the resort will consist of a
100-hectare giant panda ecological park and a semi-wild giant panda breeding
area where visitors can watch the bears.
It is hoped that the town will encourage visitors to spend more time in
Chengdu. No date has been set for the start of construction.
At present, it takes visitors half a day to visit the Chengdu Research Base
of Panda Breeding. After the town is completed, people will be able to stay
overnight, giving them more time to interact with the base's pandas.
They will be able to feed the endangered bears and even work as volunteers,
Although the panda town has a long way to go, the giant panda ecological
park, which is to be located in the northern suburbs of Chengdu, will be
completed and open to the public next year. The park will cost 500 million yuan
($66 million), according to the Chengdu Cultural Tourism Group.
The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is home to 62 of the
world's 1,590 pandas. Covering about 33 hectares, the base is devoted mainly to
giant panda breeding and research.
But the ecological park to be built is aimed at boosting tourism, said Huang
Qiang, chief of the marketing department of the Chengdu Cultural Tourism Group,
which is Chengdu's only State-owned entity in charge of the promotion of the
city's cultural and tourism sector.
"A gigantic maternity ward for pandas is being built. It
will consist of panda dens, an indoor shelter area, an observation area for
visitors and delivery rooms for the pandas. Covering nearly 3,361 sq m, the ward
is expected to be completed before October 1," Huang said.