The panda is the national symbol of China. These adorable round black and white creatures are known throughout the world as gentle giants of the forest. For those visiting China, pandas are the one animal visitors want to see. However, not everyone can jump on a plane and travel to largest country in Asia. For the rest of us, we can simply go see the latest National Geographic film to get up close and personal with the amusing panda.
Pandas: The Journey Home was filmed in Pingwu County of the Sichuan Province in the mountainous south-central region of China on the edge of the Himalayas. The film also features the famous Wolong Panda Research Center, a facility that is on the cutting edge of knowledge about these illusive creatures. Wolong has the country’s leading captive breeding program and the center’s scientists are now working on an experimental and revolutionary program to release captive-bred pandas back into the wild to repopulate this endangered species. The film, while only 45 minutes long, packs a lot of incredible information along with gorgeous cinematography in that short amount of time. The film is also shown in 3D to enhance the experience. Not that long ago, the success rate of pandas born in captivity was scant. Now that rate is 95%. Most of these pandas are then “leased” to other zoos for other breeding programs and for people around the world to see these amazing creatures. The leases allow for funding for the Wolong Center to continue its ground-breaking work.
The film also follows a young panda named Tau Tau who is about to make history. He will be the released into the wild after an intensive education program. The film shows how the center, by dressing up as pandas themselves (so as not to have human interaction) and by using the scents and sounds of other pandas and the forest, work to make Tau Tau as self-sufficient as possible. Interspersed throughout the film are some of the most adorable images of pandas playing, eating, climbing trees and cuddling with their moms and care takers.
After this showing, the Asia-Pacific Regional Director of The Nature Conservancy, Charles Bedford, gave a short presentation. Bedford, who is originally from Colorado, has lived in Bejing and Hong Kong for the last few years. He oversees a large and diverse area of the planet and he took the time to focus in on an area that the pandas desperately need. He explained their habitat and the role the Nature Conservancy has had in helping to secure that habitat for the pandas and other conservation projects. He also had a Q&A with the packed audience about pandas, China and The Nature Conservancy’s role.
For the traveler, the film is filled with beautiful images of the Laohegou Nature Reserve and the Hengduan Mountains and the 3D effects bring the area to spectacular life. The rain, the bugs, the pandas, all seem close enough to touch. For nature lovers, the film will inform and delight at the same time. And for animal lovers? If you don’t agree pandas are the cutest most adorable creatures on the planet, then there is something seriously wrong with you.
For the traveler, the film is filled with incredible images of the Laohegou Nature Reserve and the Hengduan Mountains and the 3D effects bring the area to spectacular life. The rain, the bugs, the pandas, all seem close enough to touch. For nature lovers, the film will inform and delight at the same time. And for animal lovers? If you don’t agree pandas are the cutest, most adorable creatures on the planet, then there is something seriously wrong with you.
The film is currently being shown in Colorado at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science through October 9. Filmed by National Geographic Movies the film is also showing around the US, Canada and in the UK.
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