It was an extraordinary opportunity for me to have a 5-day experience living and working with giant pandas, a creature known as one of Chinas national treasures. Through these days of being animal keeper and camper in the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding I learned so much. Not only did the experience expand our knowledge of pandas and their living conditions, but it also developed in me a deeper contemplation on the relationship between nature and human beings.
We spent a lot of time in the enclosures that were dotted everywhere throughout the Chengdu Panda Base. I saw a large amount of visitors come through to see the giant pandas so I paid a lot of attention to the reactions of these people in addition to the pandas. What I observed among these tourists was remarkable. I divided them into three main groups. What follows is my analysis as the result of my observations.
The first type I called “viewers”. The viewers took a lot of pictures with pandas all at once and soon felt bored after walking a long way and waiting without knowing much about pandas. They were not true animal lovers and it seemed that what pushed them to visit this Chengdu Panda Base was the novelty of seeing a rare species. Widespread media coverage of giant pandas has encouraged people to see this rare animal in the flesh. It was easy to see that the “viewers” had a dear divide between nature and manmade civilization. Their actions did not indicate a true understanding or respect for the animals or nature.
The second type I classified as “observers”. They showed curiosity in observing tins rare animal. They walked around the villas of pandas again and again and read the billboards one by one carefully. Pandas fascinated them and that gave them a willingness to learn more about the species. They were aware that animals and humans both live in depend on nature and should be in harmony. But there was still a distance between the animals and humans that sometimes obstructed the connection between them.
What impressed me the most was the third kind of person which I named “communicator”. I counted myself a member of this group. Knowing animal habitats and living conditions was just a small part of what communicators focused on. It was much more important for them to regard animals, especially pandas, not only as their friends but also their family members. They strongly believed that it was crucial for human beings to live with animals and nature in harmony and to have an awareness of building an environmentally-friendly society together. Perhaps this kind of explanation seemed to be abstract, but it was my real experience communicating with pandas during my time as a keeper.
Reviewing the past experience, it seems that I have had the ability to interact with animals and nature. Only when we learn to coexist in harmony with nature and animals can we realize the deepest significance of mankind’s existence.