I am a huge fan of giant pandas and have traveled through a dozen countries with my beloved stuffed panda for company.I always thought my enthusiasm for pandas was impressive until I visited the village of Sanguanmiao in the Qinling Mountains and saw a surprising photograph.

The old man in the picture is He Qinglin. He has a thin face and wears patched clothes, typical of an ordinary old farmer in Qinling area. What stood out in this photograph was the panda cub, Ping Ping, singing on the farmer’s lap. He’s wife stooped to hold a bottle for the nursing cub using the same formula they used to feed their grandson, He Xin. After seeing this picture in Sanguanmiao, I knew our guide He Qinggui was the youngest son of He Qjnglin and the father of He Xin. What a coincidence!

He kept telling his story with the pandas along the way. He was fortunate to meet many panda experts, wildlife photographers and nature protectors. He offered them guidance and also helped them to track pandas. Gradually, he almost became a panda expert.

I highly recommended this photo of,He’s family nursing panda cub to the Giant Panda magazine.
Wang Roi, a giant panda fan

I am He Xin, and when I was a baby I shared a nursing bottle with giant panda Ping Ping.

I lived in Sanguanmiao village, Foping county with a population of just 35,000. It sits like a bright pearl in the mountains surrounded by one of the most intact wildlife and plant habitats. Boasting the greatest density of wild giant pandas in China, the county has long been regarded as one of the country’s most promising natural habitats for these national treasures to live and thrive.

In November 1991, the staff of Foping National Nature Reserve, Wang Tiejun and WuYuncai, patroned a mountain. When they came to the junction of Sanguannliao village and Caoping village, they found a two month-old dying panda cub and quickly brought it to nearby Sanguannxiao.

The tiny and remote village of Sanguanmiao in the Foping National Nature Reserve sat at the center of a giant panda distribution area and the human population had not moved out of the region by that point Goods and supplies had to be carried in from other parts of the county the nearest one about a hundred miles away Though the human population of approximately 50 in the area was quite poor, my grandparents included,they did not hesitate to share what they had with a starving panda cub. The cub ended up living at my childhood home for several months until the snow stopped and the Foping National Nature Reserve Administration authorities had access to our location and could retrieve him.

On June 10, 2012 a 21 year-old giant panda male named Ping Ping, weighing 109kg, was sent from the Shaanxi Wild Animal Protection and Breeding Center to the Qinling Giant Panda Training Base in Foping. At that time I did not know who Ping Ping was. Liang Qihui from Foping National Nature Reserve Administration said, the panda that shared formula powder with you. We are about 20km from where Ping Ping was found.” I felt I was destined to see him again after so many years.

I spent another two years with Ping Ping at the Foping Panda Training Center. He showed himself to be quite smart surpassing other pandas in obedience to instructions from the keeper. Ping Ping was elderly pushing 80 years in human terms, and had only 5 teeth remaining.The other keeper, Pu Zhiyong, and I were very aware of Ping Ping’s senior age and carefully observed his activity We fed him eight or nine times a day so that he could have clean and fresh bamboo to eat. We cleaned and disinfected his water pool every day and his pen twice a day.

On March 6, 20141 Ping Ping was shipped to Louguantai. I tearfully bade him farewell. January 8, 2015, Jin Xuelin from Shaanxi Wild Animal Protection and Breeding Center Louguantai called to ask me to help their giant pandas. It was snowing, and I arrived at nine in the evening.Jin Xuelin said that the pandas were being evacuated to avoid contracting canine distemper. I was being sent to Niubei Ridge to take care of two pandas named Qin Chuan and Ding Ding.

We arrived at Niubei Ridge at II:OO pm and I learned kore my colleagues where Ping Ping was being housed. He was in the opposite pen, but I could not go to visit them due to concerns about infection transmission. Tragically Ping Ping died on January 13, 2015 at seven in the morning on my fourth day there. Upon hearing the news I became very sad and could not help but to burst into tears. I was not able to say goodbye to him, fearing the spread of canine distemper would affect Qm Chuan and Ding Ding. Later, I learned that Ping Ping died from natural causes at 24 years of age with only two teeth, elderly body unable to withstand the cold winter.

I am honored to have shared my story and bottle with Ping Ping. I am proud of my grandparents for helping to feed the young panda and my experience of training giant pandas in the wild for more than 30 years. Now l am feeding the only captive brown panda in the world.