Each time the staff at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Foundation mentioned Akemi Tanaka, a feeling of warmth and happiness pervaded the room. Since her first dose contact with pandas on July 8, 2011, Tanaka has come to Sichuan to visit pandas at least once a month. Her schedule while in Sichuan was always full but simple; she visited pandas.
This past year, Tanaka participated in the Giant Panda Keeper program at the invitation of the Giant Panda Research Foundation. She enjoyed and got great satisfaction from each different experience she had in the program.
Her first encounter was at the Sunshine Nursery House where she learned how to prepare fresh bamboo shoots for panda cubs. The keepers also taught her how to dean the enclosures properly.
In the second phase of the program Tanaka visited the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding’s Dujiangyan Field Research Center for Giant Pandas, where she met giant panda expert, Mr. Fei Lisong. This opportunity was made possible by the Giant Panda Research Foundation. After her visit, she expressed her desire to gain more knowledge about giant pandas and how she hoped for a better understanding of this species through their behaviors and voices.
Part three of the program fulfilled Tanaka’s ongoing dream of cleaning the enclosures for her favorite panda, Mei Bang, who was born in Japan. Despite the difficulty of the task, she maintained her enthusiasm and accomplished the mission step by step.
The program also gave Tanaka the chance to make panda cakes in the Panda Kitchen She fed the elaborately made panda cakes to Ai Bang, another panda who returned from Japan.
Tanaka’s deep love for pandas is remarkable. She is just one ordinary person who simply wants to contribute to helping pandas. Involving herself in the Panda Keeper program is the way she chooses to care.
Love can make a person do crazy things, and Akemi Tanaka is one person who is crazy about pandas.