Wolong National Nature Reserve
Address: Xiongmao Da Dao, northern suburb, northeast of the zoo
Transport: Bus: no. 9, 19, 201, or 302 to zoo; from there, ¥8 ($1) taxi or ¥5 (65¢) trishaw
Phone: 028-8351 6748
Price: ¥30 ($3.75)

Wolong National Nature Reserve is a protected area located in Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province, People's Republic of China. Established in 1963, the reserve covers an area of about 200,000 hectares. There are over 4,000 different species recorded in the reserve. Wolong National Nature Reserve houses more than 150 highly endangered giant pandas.

In June 1980, the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda was established at Wolong with the efforts of both World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Chinese government. To this date, researchers have conducted many breeding research on giant pandas and have successfully bred 66 panda cubs.

A mountain stream runs through the Wolong Valley (where the Reserve is); the stream is heavily armoured with boulders and smaller rounded stones. Stream waters are rather alkaline with pH levels in the range of 8.91. (Hogan, 2007) Water quality turbidity is quite high due to extensive sand and gravel mining in stream.

According to a 2001 research by Dr. Jianguo Liu of Michigan State University, the rate of destruction is higher after the reserve's creation than before its creation. Using NASA's satellite images and records of population, Liu's research team concluded that due to tourism and the increase in local population, the reserve is facing an unprecedented threat. "Tourists don't think they have an impact on panda habitat, but indirectly each visitor has some impact," Liu said. "We don't see ourselves as a destructive force, but we are."

The region, including the Panda Research Center, has been largely devastated on 12 May 2008 by a catastrophic earthquake, though the captive giant pandas are reported to be safe. Initially, officials were unable to contact the reserve. However, PRC’s Foreign Ministry later said that a group of 31 British tourists visiting the Wolong panda reserve in the quake-hit area have returned safe and uninjured to the provincial capital. Nonetheless, the well-being of an even greater number of pandas in the neighbouring panda reserves remains unknown initially. Five security guards at the reserve were killed by the earthquake. Six pandas escaped after their enclosures were damaged. By May 20, two pandas at the reserve were found to be injured, while the search continued for another two adult pandas that went missing after the quake. By 28 May 2008, one panda was still missing.The missing panda was later found dead under the rubble of an enclosure. Sadly, nine-year-old Mao Mao, a mother of five at the breeding centre, was discovered on Monday, her body crushed by a wall in her enclosure. Panda keepers and other workers placed her remains in a small wooden crate and buried her outside the breeding centre.

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