By Keqiao Cheng, EDITOR
Around 8 o’clock in the morning, it is a fixed time for the giant panda Xinxing to get up. After having breakfast, Zhang Naicheng will go to the innermost courtyard of the Panda Pavilion, which is the mansion of Xinxing, with an open-air garden outside the room.
Then, Zhang will open the door of the bedroom, and let Xinxing go out to the living room. After that, Zhang separates the leftover bamboo shoots and the feces, sweeps the feces into the pot, put it in the box, weights it, record the data, and finally, he turns on the faucet and cleans the bedroom of the panda.
This is the routine work of Zhang, breeder of the pandas in Chongqing Zoo.
And the 36-year-old Xinxing is the oldest panda of the world. Since Zhang began to take care of her in 1997, it has been already 21 years.
The September 24th was the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival of China. After getting up at 6:30 in the morning, Zhang prepared the maize flour and put it in the pot for steaming. It was for the pandas.
Meanwhile, it was still raining heavily outside the window. Zhang had some concerns, because he had been preparing for a long time just for this day.
He planned to make a special Mid-Autumn Festival celebration for Xinxing with his colleagues . Many fans of the oldest panda were on the way to join the festival.
“With such rain, shall we celebrate the festival as planned?” Zhang received a message from the panda fans.
Although he was still worried, he replied firmly: “Yes!”
Without being public, the staff of the Panda Pavilion quietly celebrated the 36th birthday of Xinxing just before the Mid-Autumn Festival. She is 36 years old, which equals 108 years of human ages.
After breeding her for 21 years, Zhang wanted to make Xinxing a special Mid-Autumn Festival. Because the older she gets, the fewer days she has to be accompanied by Zhang.
At 10 o’clock, the rain finally got lighter. Zhang immediately let the staff decorate the garden with lanterns and prepare the mooncake for Xinxing.
Zhang then led Xinxing out of her mansion. Step by step, the old panda walked unevenly following Zhang in the rain, and slowly climbed up the stairs.
The fans waiting outside began to get excited. Some of them got to the zoo very early on the rainly morning in order to witness the moment.
“I think he is the most dedicated dad. He doesn’t take it just a job, it is his life.”
Zhang is 44 years old, and it has been 26 years since he moved to Chongqing. When he speaks, it is not difficult for the local people to tell his accent.
Zhang’s family lived in Jiangsu Province, which is more than 1000 kilometers away from this western city of China. He wasn’t admitted by the university when he was 18 years old, and decided to go to Chongqing to make a fortune.
It was 1992 when he made a street stall near a cinema to sell goods at night. At the same time, Xinxing was just about to give birth at Chongqing Zoo.
There was no air conditioner in the Panda Pavilion, and in order to keep it cool, a lot of ice cubes were demanded by the zoo. With the recommendation of a friend, Zhang began the business to ship the ice cubes from the ice cream factory to the zoo.
It was where the story of Zhang and Xinxing began.
Xinxing had a bad temper after having the baby panda, and was very alert when she heard the sound. Therefore, Zhang had to take off his shoes every time he moved the ice cubes into the panda house.
He was very diligent, and his work was recognized by the zoo. Finally, he became part of the staff.
Zhang is a quick learner. While doing his daily work, he learned how to take care of pandas from the colleagues. In 1993, he became the “nanny” of two pandas. And he has been taken care of Xinxing since 1997.
There are currently 12 giant pandas in the Zoo of Chongqing. During the day, he is a full-time nanny of two pandas, i.e. Xinxing and Yaya, and at night he takes care of all the pandas. Before going to bed every night, he never forgets to check each one of the pandas.
There is a small room next to the Panda Pavilion. It is Zhang’s bedroom and office. His home is not far from the zoo, but Zhang sleeps here for most of the time.
They need us, especially the old pandas like Xinxing, said Zhang. He feeds her 6 times per day, 3 kilos of bamboo shoots for each meal.
Walking into the storage room with a constant temperature of 18 ℃, Zhang carefully prepared the meal for Xinxing, stripped the bamboo shoots and cuts off the non-edible parts.
This is the unique treatment of Xinxing. For other pandas, the main food is the bamboo leaves, and they have to strip the bamboo shoots themselves when eating.
Because of her age, in addition to the bamboo shoots, Zhang prepares a nutritious meal for Xinxing every day.
Zhang and the veterinarian gives a physical examination to Xinxing every week. Fortunately, her physical conditions are good.
“I want to make a miracle to raise Xinxing to at least 40 years old.” Said he.
If you are interested in the Mid-Autumn Festival and the traditional Chinese mooncake, you may check this video out.