How I Grew Up in the Beijing Zoo, Beijing, China

By Cacinda Maloney

The Asian Panda House

Panda figurine

Panda figurine – Franz Collection

As a little girl, she bounced around the house bumping into the coffee table, when the precious crystal glass panda figurine fell to the floor.  Reaching down and grabbing it right before it could have hit the floor, she was relieved.  She panned the room, and soon she realized her house wasn’t like other people’s house, as her Mother was a collector.  A collector of things and this time the collection was Pandas.  Figurines of every size to panda imprinted towels, t-shirts, and hot plates, to Christmas ornaments and jewelry.  You name it, her Mother had it. If you googled panda collectibles on Ebay, that was what was in her house, she even had a panda closet, for when the overflow of the collection became too much.  Her house could have been known as the Asian Panda House and along with that came the stories and the memories that engraved in her mind on how one day, she too, would collect memories of her own pandas, just in a different way.

Asian Games Panda House, Bejing Zoo, Bejing, China

They pulled up to the building with the big concrete sign of golden letters, in Mandarin it read:

Bejing Zoo - Asian Games Panda House

Bejing Zoo – Asian Games Panda HouseT

She was so excited, she took a deep breath, as she could barely hold back her energy.  Finally, the day had come that she had dreamed about her entire life, a chance to see a real life giant panda bear in China. They lived here at the Beijing Zoo, which was built in 1906 during the Qing Dynasty, at the time it was a small area of land with only a few humble pavilions to house the animals. Later it was renamed as The Beijing Zoo in 1955, and now covers a massive amount of land and breeds over 5000 animals in more than 450 species, but there was only one species she wanted to see:  

The Giant Panda

Bejing Zoo - Asian Games Panda House

Bejing Zoo – Asian Games Panda House

The Beijing Zoo has rare Chinese animals, such as the Giant Panda, the Golden Monkey, the Red Panda, Sichuan golden monkey, and Manchurian tigers.  But she could wait no longer.

Giant Panda -Beijing, China

Giant Panda -Beijing, China


Giant Panda -Beijing, China

Giant Panda -Beijing, China

In the over 10,000 square meter Asian Games Panda House, built in 1990 for the 11th Asian Games,  they currently house 5 pandas, the youngest being 2 years old. The Giant Panda Hall is designed on a circular pattern inspired by the Tai Chi symbol.

The Asian Games Panda House, Beijing, China

The Asian Games Panda House, Beijing, China

There is an interior hall and an outside “playground” for the pandas with trees, climbing structures, and lots of places to lean back and enjoy a snack.  There they were, lounging around and hanging from the trees!  Looking so innocent and soft, like a real-life, stuffed teddy bear.  She was amazed at their leisure, the nonchalant attitude they had as they grazed and relaxed in the warm sun.  Finally, she had gotten to have a face to face encounter with a Giant Panda, the emblem of China.  Obviously, that she was me and I finally felt satisfied in the moment, one more bucket list item had been checked off.

Giant Panda -Beijing, China

Giant Panda -Beijing, China

The Giant Panda lives here on its diet of 99% bamboo and thus bamboo is grown right here on the premises.  They also live in a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan province, but due to farming, deforestation, and other developments, the Giant Panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived.  The Giant Panda is a conservation reliant endangered species

Giant Panda -Beijing, China

Pandas Galore -Beijing, China

While the dragon has historically served as China’s national emblem, in recent decades the Giant Panda has also served as an emblem for the country.  Its image appears all over China and for that little girl in me, represents the country I always dreamed I would once go to.

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  2. Suzy July 21, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    That’s great that your mom instilled such a love for these very cute creatures!

  3. Jenna@Webjet July 23, 2013 at 7:03 am

    What a great memory of your childhood and how your mother loved pandas. I can only imagine how wide-eyed excited you were when you were able to see one in person! Thanks for sharing such a feel good story 🙂

    • admin July 23, 2013 at 8:41 am

      Thanks Jenna, I do find it amazing the impact one’s parents have on the child. I just wonder what impact I will have on my own children… right now I have a teenager who wants to be the youngest person in the world to travel to all the countries in the world, like Lee Abbamonte. I really had no intention of making that a dream for him, even though I am a travel fanatic! And who knows if that will end up being a long term goal for him? But is amazing how the childhood memories drive one’s passion and desires at an older age. My mother also loved Australia and had never been by the time she was 61, so I took her there on a trip. You can read about it here: Ahh, the things we do for our parents and the ways they influence us!

  4. Eric July 26, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Great story! Love pandas. Would love to see them in China some day…thanks for sharing such a special story!

    • admin July 27, 2013 at 9:13 am

      Why thank you Captain Auxier! I am sure one day you will with all the flying you do!

  5. venkata subbarao voleti September 20, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Very ‘touching’ episode- Interesting and informative , too-“Panda” lives long in our memories–God bless you-

    • admin September 20, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      Thanks so much! It is funny how our memories drive us and linger around our souls!

  6. […] that was circa 1850’s – 1920’s.  (I mentioned before my Mother’s fascination with ceramic pandas, as well and my Father’s love affair with 1950’s American cars, which he continues to […]

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