Meeting the pandas in Pairi Daiza

When I was little, I was crazy about pandas. I had so many plush toys and illustrated books about these cute black and white bears.When I heard that Pairi Daiza, voted the most beautiful park and best zoo in Belgium, was welcoming two giant pandas, I knew I had to go there. The pandas have been there for almost a year, but I haven’t had the chance to visit until last Sunday… Unfortunately, the weather was quite awful, but I still managed to take some pictures, despite the rain.

Meeting the pandas in Pairi Daiza

Pairi Daiza is divided in 7 worlds dedicated to different ecosystems or cultures of the world, including the Immortal’s city where the pandas can be found.Everything is authentic over there, from the temples and pavilions to the paths of gemstones. They hired construction partners that came directly from Shanghai to maintain that respect for tradition. It is really “authentic” and very nice to visit ! It’s my favourite part of this theme park !

Pairi Daiza

Hao Hao and Xing Hui are really cut and are not really shy. I spent some time over there, taking pictures of them… eating :D Pandas eat almost only bamboo, however, bamboo is not a food that contains a lot of protein and their digestive tract is not adapt to digest plants. Therefore, they only manage to extract 20 to 30% of their nutritive elements… So, that’s why they have to eat all day long !

They have very good teeth and they also have a sixth finger to be able to hold the bamboo tight. So I understand why pandas can be as dangerous as other bears… :-(

There are also other animals in this part, including red pandas, muntjacs, cranes and Chinese Alligators. But what is really striking in the Immortal’s city is the beauty of the gardens. They are so peaceful, you could easily spend hours over there.

The park is so big that it’s difficult to visit everything in one day ! We also visited briefly the part of the park dedicated to Africa.

This giraffe was acting really weirdly, the animal was licking the wood repeatedly. When I got home, I tried to find some explanations about this strange behavior. Apparently, it is known as a stereotypical animal behavior. A lot of suppositions are made concerning these behaviors since the biological cause is often not know, but people think it’s due to the frustration of natural behavior patterns… or brain dysfunction. It’s quite common in zoos, as animals get bored easily and start to develop OCD like liking walls or chewing their fur. It made me sad when I read about that…. but on the other hand, I found another explanation as well. They like to lick salty things and they need them in their diet… so people from the zoo rub salt on the wood pillar to provide mineral salts to the giraffe. I don’t know what’s the most plausible… I hope it’s the second reason. If someone knows more about it, feel free to share you knowledge ! :-)

This weekend, I’m going to Wales for a wedding, I hope the weather will be good ! Have a lovely weekend :-)

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141 responses to “Meeting the pandas in Pairi Daiza

  1. I think the evolution of the panda from a carnivorous diet to a vegeterian one is really odd but quite fascinating!

    Zoochosis is heartbreaking, especially since it’s a widespread condition in zoos around the world, as well as circuses. Nothing justifies wildlife captivity, even conservation in most cases, and the truth is the vast majority of captive animals isn’t threatened at all.

    Here’s an interesting piece about stereotypic behavior in the case of elephants: http://elefilm.eu/web/home.html

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    • It is really odd and fascinating, I agree with you. It makes no sense to me to spend so much time of the day eating food with not a lot of nutrients :D

      I watched the documentary. It’s really sad. Zoo, circus but also elephant rides proposed for tourists are really bad for them :-(

      On the other hand, I think that bringing children to the zoos can educate them to respect the wildlife. What’s your opinion about that ?

      Liked by 1 person

      • True, elephant rides are messed up too. I think it’s one thing to use domesticated animal, but using wildlife for fun or work is rarely ok in my opinion because it restrict their freedom too much. Maybe some working elephants are well treated tho, I dunno. Some stunt animals definitely look happy… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7zXS_Lvykc (this guy’s amazing!)

        I don’t believe zoos are educational, rather the opposite, sorry :p Going to zoos, kids grow up with the idea that captivity is ok and that’s already a wrong start in my opinion. Besides what they see is a distortion of nature from a very detached perspective. If I’d want my kid to be sensitive to nature, I’d rather throw him in the real outdoors.

        So far, studies failed to prove that zoo visitors come out more educated about nature and conservation and adjust their behavior as a result (http://nbb.emory.edu/faculty/personal/documents/MarinoetalAZAStudy.pdf)

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        • Thanks for this very detailed reply, and also, thanks for sharing the link, that is very interesting ! I read the article. Yes, I understand your point of view. For me, going to zoo when I was little, as well as spending all my weekend in the nature, definitively helps, but I should not make a generality :-) Some zoos are really educational, there are workshops for children that explain a lot of problem related to climate and conservation. Singapore zoo is just amazing and the Brooklyn zoo is quite good as well regarding these aspects. But there are shitty zoos out there, for sure. Maybe we should just watch documentary, it would be really good without interfering with the life of wildlife animals :-)

          I think these days, circus are not popular anymore, people have realized that the animals are poorly treated. In the future, maybe it will be the same with zoos, who knows.

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          • Hey no pb, I’m glad u found it interesting :-) Yes, there seems to be a trend to end captivity, so we can hope for the best. I know the UK wanted to ban wildlife in circuses a few months ago but then for some reason they backpedalled… I’m sure it will pass eventually, some countries already prohibit it.

            Ye, I think zoo may work for some people, but definitely not the majority, like you say :-)

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  2. That’s interesting about the pandas and their digestion. I worry about zoos, too. They can be unique and give a chance to see animals up close that you can’t usually but I have also seen some unusual behavior that makes me want to unlock the cage door. Then again, if the animal only knows captivity, it likely wouldn’t last. The design does look very peaceful!

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    • Yes, there are a lot of things we don’t really know about animals. i love watching documentaries, I always learn a lot about the wildlife :-)

      I agree with your mixed feelings about zoo. I think there are a lot of pros but also some cons… regarding these kind of institutions.

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      • So true! I think there are a lot of assumptions made about animals, humanizing them or trying to explain their behavior from a human perspective. I suppose that’s really all humans can do since we can’t be animals at the same time. But then again, maybe animals are not so different. I wonder if, in some culture, there’s no distinct word for animals or the word or words is similar to that of humans, recognizing that there is collaboration and one is not always higher than the other. And two thumbs up to documentaries! They are amazing… even the ones about mountains and geology. I watched one once about the Canadian shield and the host was so enthusiastic, I walked away feeling like he does… that mountains breathe and move and live just like humans, albeit at a much slower pace. :D

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  3. I love Pandas, too!!! You captured it all so beautifully, images are absolutely stunning. Thank you for sharing. I will have to put Belgium on my list for travels :)

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  4. I was looking forward to this post!!! I love Pandas <3 Gorgeous shots! I've never seen one though. I came close to visiting the zoo in Vienna, but I ran out of time. When I was there, they had a baby panda. :( Oh well, maybe soon enough! Have a great weekend! x

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  5. I really enjoyed your photos here, espec. the Pandas. Great info too. My first thought when you mentioned the giraffe licking the wood was “salt.” I’ve been to many places in the wild too where animals lick the clay or river beds to get the minerals that are missing from their diet. I use the same excuse for eating potato chips and pretzels…ha.

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    • A part from Vienna and Belgium, I don’t know if there is another place in Europe that houses pandas :-) I’ve never been to Vienna, but I’ve read some reviews about it, and it looks good as well.

      Thanks ! Enjoy the rest of your week

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love pandas, too. What a lovely setting for them to be in. And why are red pandas so cute? Great post and you’ve been so lucky with the weather in Wales! Hope you had a great time xx

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  7. I have always been fascinated by the pandas and the fact that their diet is bamboo… How can this huge bear survive on bamboo!! :) I had no idea they had a six finger…hehe, fun fact. I still don’t believe they can be dangerous – just look how cute they are! ;)

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    • It has been a crazy weekend and a crazy week so far. I don’t have a minute to myself. Thanks for the wishes, I had fun this weekend ! But really behind answering comments and visiting other blogs ! :-)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ohh, I absolutely adore pandas. I became a big fan when I Iived only minutes away from the National Zoo in Washington D.C. last summer, as they currently have three there. Fantastic pictures. :)

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  9. I just love pandas Gin! One of the main highlights of our trip to Vienna last year was seeing the giant pandas in Schoenbrunn Zoo – they have had great success with their panda breeding programme and the pair there have had at least 3 baby pandas so far :) Years ago I saw the last giant panda at London Zoo (Chi Chi) – she was very old then and I was very young!! Have a great weekend in Wales at the wedding :)

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    • I remembered you saw the pandas in Vienna, I was very jealous of you, believe me :-)

      It will be fun ! I’m sure ! I missed my flight this morning, so instead of flying at 7 am I’m flying at 10pm… 100% my fault. I forgot my ID and…. my flight tickets :-(

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh no that’s no good Gin :( Hope you get there in time for the wedding though! Am glad you’ve seen the pandas they are wonderful aren’t they?! Have a lovely time in Wales when you get there :)

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        • Oh dear Rosemary, I think it was the worst day of my life. After the missed flight, my other flight was delayed due to bad weather. Once I get to the uk, we drove towards newport and then, the highway was closed then we had to make a huge detour (at least 1 hour) to take another highway and we arrived around 4 am :-( This was horrendous. Thankfully, we had fun afterwards :D I didn’t really have time to visit Wales, but we may get back there in July :-)

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh my goodness that does sound horrendous Gin it’s stressful when stuff like that happens. Sorry that the weather was bad too – our daughter in London said it was really nice there earlier this week but I think that was only for a day! Hope you recovered enough to enjoy the wedding and that the return journey was much better! Wishing you a good rest of the week too! 😃

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            • It was bad in Belgium, but in Wales, the weather was lovely. The return journey was much better !

              We unpacked some boxes already (from my bf) and we went to ikea ! The flat starts to look nice :-)

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  10. Ooh, I find pandas super cute too! Especially baby pandas….if only I can play with them but it’s always good to still be cautious with animals…but still…it’s one of my favourite animals to watch..hehe..😄

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  11. beautiful shots and it look great when they designed the places in different section for different types of animals. It is so cool to see so many wild animals in one place. Love it and thanks for sharing.

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  12. Great photos, and fun to read of your fascination with pandas! I had no thoughts whatsoever about pandas and was not looking forward to a trip to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding when I was in China. As it turned out, it was really interesting; I enjoyed walking through the bamboo-surrounded walkways, and the pandas were cute. I loved the babies and also the red ones that look like raccoons.

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  13. I would love to visit this place. Pandas don’t seem real to me. They look like enormous cuddly soft toys! What a wonderful experience to have been able to get up so close to them. Thanks for introducing me to the red pandas as well. They are cuties too. What a special place this is. :-)

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  14. I kept thinking how cute they looked, but I guess most large animals look cute from the safe distance of ones laptop screen. Great shots, especially the spiderweb wonderful usage of environment and composition.

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    • I agree with you. They look cute from a distance, but when you look closer, you see how sharp their claw and teeth are. Thank you for the nice comment ! I tried my best despite the lack of a blue sky. This horrible grey sky was quite horrible to deal with !

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  15. Great shots! What a treat for you to finally meet these adorable Pandas face to face. You probably already know this, but I saw a documentary recently and was shocked to learn that Pandas are one of the world’s most fascinating vegetarians because they did not initially evolve as such. I had no idea that their digestive systems evolved to process meat and that all this bamboo eating, all day, every day, is how they evolved to cope with their changing environment. Apparently, these animals should not be able to survive on a bamboo diet, yet they do! What beautiful and extraordinary creatures! ~ Jeannie

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    • It’s technically the same family as the brown bear, so I’m not surprised they would be able to process meat. Because they are eating bamboo, they can hibernate like the other member of the family, because they don’t get enough energy out of it and can’t stock to face winter. It’s fascinating, you are right. Pandas are fascinating.. and cute :-)

      Liked by 1 person

  16. What a beautiful abstract photography Pairi Daiza, a place that I love.Yes, I live in Belgium but it is far from home.I regret or I think I would go every day.

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  17. Thanks for the chronicle and the link to the zoo someday I hope to see pandas in live too. The etymology was also quite interesting!
    In Peru there are bears but they’re a bit muted in comparisson, although they have “glasses” xP

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  18. Love pandas – only seen them once in the zoo in Vienna but I could have watched them (do nothing except eat) all day. Something about them just pulls you in. This zoo sounds like a great one too. Enjoy the wedding and Wales – the weather has (finally) perked up a bit in the UK, fingers crossed it stays…..

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  19. Gorgeous photos! I’m afraid I have seen similar behavior in a polar bear in activity. He paced incessantly and the keepers had the poor thing on anti depressants.

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  20. Really superb shots all round, but particularly the pandas. You seem to have captured ‘personality’ if you can say that of pandas! They look more than just cuddly – perhaps it’s that bamboo snack they’re enjoying so much.

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  21. So cute. Till this day I cant toss any of my stuff animals from childhood. I,ve heard the 1st reason for strange animal behavior. Try not too think of it that way. As long as they are taken care of good. Some animals are also just weird like that depending on personality. There’s a client at the vets office her cat likes to lick and try and chew her brick wall. She takes good care of them and gives him lots of attention.

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      • Was trying to delete my typo and I accidently posted. The cat is fine. I don’t think stressed. Lives with a dog he likes. One of the techs mentioned that pets take on the nervous energy of the owners.

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  22. Oh what beautiful photos of beautiful animals! I love how you include shots of both the giant pandas and ‘lesser’ pandas :) I love pandas too. They are very popular here, and we have some pandas on a special loan from China. As you can imagine, they attract big crowds. I enjoyed your photos so much (as always!). Thanks for posting, and hope you enjoy the wedding!!

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  23. Awww, you are a panda lover! I like pandas too, but I prefer monkeys. Whenever I hear there is a new monkey at the zoo, I will have to go and see it ;)

    These are incredible photos of the animals at the zoo. Very well shot from a far (I’m assuming you had to stand back from the cage or barriers) and love the one of the red panda and it’s tongue sticking out. So cute. I didn’t know pandas can be dangerous and have six fingers. Better be careful not to get too close to them :D

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    • It’s a bit more than a zoo, because most animals are not trapped in cages. It’s in the open air, and they put some electric fences (the size depending on the size of the animals) so the animals can’t cross. And you are quite far away from them most of the time.

      Oh, I had to take so many pictures of the red panda. I wanted to take a picture of the pink tongue, but it was tricky ;-)

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      • I don’t like the sound of electric fences. I’m sure it’s no harm to animals…but you never know with all the electricity behind them. But, good that the visitors are generally far from the animals so nothing to fear :)

        I am sure the red panda loved the attention you were giving him. Now he is famous on your blog ;)

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        • This park has been voted the best zoo of France-Belgium-Holland, so I think the welfare is important in this nomination. I seriously think that the condition of the animals are good. But like you said, electric fence doesn’t sound, I agree ;-)

          Haha, the red panda was quite far away and I think he didn’t give a shit about the visitors. He was more interesting about the other red panda, and the “zoo keepers” were thinking they may have babies this year :-)

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  24. Oh they are such awesome animals! The red pandas are gorgeous but I haven’t had the chance to see any black and white pandas since I was in Hong Kong 8 years ago. I may have to take a trip to Belgium just for these :)

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