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How to Hold a Panda in Chengdu

February 7, 2017
Hold Panda, Chengdu, China
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I am the first to admit, I made a special detour to Chengdu just to visit the giant pandas. The facilities in Chengdu are the only locations in the world where you can hold a giant panda. The opportunity to see them up close and hold one was too much. I had to go!

I decided to visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding Center. It’s located about a 40-minute drive outside the city, however this is not the only panda research base. There are two other options available in Chengdu.

How to Get to theChengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding Center

Take a Taxi for Transportation

I recommend hiring a private tour or private taxi for your trip to the breeding center. If you arrive at the facility using public transportation (like a bus) you will risk arriving too late. The buses don’t really start to run until 8:30am, and arriving early is very important. Also, if possible, try to avoid weekends.


Arrive Early

Pandas are the most active in the mornings. You will want to be there for feeding time around 9am. Arrive early because the crowds form about 30 minutes before feeding time to watch them race out for their breakfast.

Panda, Chengdu, China

The panda’s 2 favorite activities are eating and sleeping. If you arrive too late, it is likely they will defer to pastime #2 of sleeping. So get there early, you don’t want to miss it!

Panda, Chengdu, China

Sunshine Panda Nursery

Another reason to arrive early is to see the panda nursery before the crowds arrive. March to May and is the “love making” season for pandas, and that means autumn or winter are your best bets at seeing tiny newborns in the nursery. If there are newborns, prepare for large crowds with their faces will be pressed against the glass. I could have stayed for hours taking in the cuteness of these little tots!

Panda, Chengdu, China

Panda, Chengdu, China

Now, to the Juicy Details:

How to Hold a Panda in Chengdu

What to Expect

Panda holding is allowed two times a day, 10:30am and 2:30pm. Reservations are not required, but try to be at the Sunshine Panda Nursery around 10am and 2pm. Here you’ll sign up and pay the panda-holding fee.

You will receive a neck tag and return it when it’s your turn to hold the panda. When it is your turn, you will follow a staff member to watch a video on pandas and clean some bamboo. Then you’ll put on the required blue scrubs and plastic covers over your hands and shoes for sanitation purposes. The cuddle session is only about 2-5 minutes. But don’t worry, the staff will take photos of you with your little ball of fluff. 🙂

The Cost

Be warned, it is not cheap to hold a panda. The prices are constantly rising, but expect to spend at least $320 USD. The best way to rationalize the cost is to think of it as a “donation”. The funds help preserve these animals that had been on the endangered species list for over a decade.

Payment is made in cash only, and there are no ATM’s on the facility.


Which Facility Should You Go To?

There are 3 panda facilities in Chengdu:

  1. Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (I went here)
  2. Dujiangyan Panda Base
  3. Bifengxia Giant Panda Base

The most common and popular location for panda holding is the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. However, this location’s panda holding program has been suspended.

Note: At the time of writing, the Dujiangyan Panda Base (located about 1.5 hours outside of Chengdu) is the only facility that offers panda holding as well as the panda volunteer program.

A re-opening date of Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and the Difengxia Base is still TBA. But keep an eye on updated rules and requirements as they change often. Stay the most up to date by checking the China Highlights site and the Chengdu Panda Base site directly.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Panda in Chengdu

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Panda, Chengdu, China

Do you want to hold a panda in Chengdu? Love to know your thoughts below!

  • Avatar
    April 5, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Too much cuteness!!

  • Avatar
    December 14, 2017 at 1:19 am

    Hey, so my friends and I are going to Chengdu this weekend. My question is do we have to book a guide to hold the pandas or can we just show up and hold the pandas? Holding a panda is pretty expensive… paying for a guide ontop of that is pretty steep…

      December 14, 2017 at 9:42 am

      Hi Ralisha, so fun, you’re going to have a blast! You don’t have to pay for a guide, just make sure you arrive early and get your name on the list. It operates first come, first serve, and according to the website they only allow 20 people per day. It also seems like the Chengdu Breeding Center is still closed and you’ll need to go to Dujiangyan or Wolong. However Dujiangyan seems like the best. Hope this helps!! 🙂

  • Avatar
    Lauren Pears
    April 18, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    Ahh those baby pandas in the nursery are just too cute! ?

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