Giant panda Hua Hua and her devoted caretaker win the hearts of internet users

(People's Daily Online) 09:49, January 05, 2024

In 2023, the giant panda He Hua, nicknamed Hua Hua, and her caretaker, Tan Jintao (known as "Grandpa Tan"), won the hearts of many people with the devotion they have shown each other.

Crowds of visitors often flock to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province, eager to catch a glimpse of Hua Hua, despite long queues that lasted up to three hours.

Hua Hua has droplet-shaped eye patches, giving her a unique appearance. When she runs, she resembles a large, moving rice ball.

Photo shows giant panda Hua Hua and her caretaker Tan Jintao.  (Photo/CCTV Newscenter)

When other pandas bump into her, Hua Hua simply lies down and continues eating. Even when her freshly peeled bamboo shoots are snatched away, she calmly picks up another one and continues peeling it.

Hua Hua's relaxed and tranquil demeanor brings comfort to many people.

Visitors have also noticed that Grandpa Tan and Hua Hua have become more alike in temperament.

Tan has been taking care of Hua Hua for two years.

Tan is 51 years old, and has been working at the base since 1999, where he is responsible for caring for pandas aged 2 to 3 years old. As many pandas have grown up and become parents, Tan has gone from being a "nanny daddy" to a "grandpa."

Tan's daily schedule revolves around his responsibilities at the panda base. He wakes up at 6 a.m. to check the enclosures, and provides bamboo and water for the pandas. In the morning, while the pandas enjoy their outdoor activities, he quickly cleans the enclosures. Occasionally, he also adds bamboo for the pandas at night.

As Hua Hua eats less bamboo than the others, Tan prepares a special diet for her, incorporating crushed bamboo powder to ensure she gets good nutrition.

Photo shows giant panda Hua Hua and her caretaker Tan Jintao.  (Photo/CCTV Newscenter)

In the afternoons, Tan individually coaches Hua Hua, using fruit and other food to encourage her to stand up and strengthen her hind legs.

Before each meal, Tan summons Hua Hua with a spirited "Guo lai! Guo lai!" (a Sichuan dialect phrase meaning "come here"). When Hua Hua hears "Guo lai," her eyes sparkle with anticipation.

Tan said his work gives him a sense of happiness, but also acknowledges the need for great patience and meticulousness.

For instance, when preparing milk for the pandas, he makes sure the boiling water cools down enough to match their body temperature before adding the formula in precise proportions. He maintains strict hygiene by washing and disinfecting his hands before feeding and continuously monitors the pandas' eating habits and activity levels.

Photo shows giant panda Hua Hua and her caretaker Tan Jintao. (Photo/CCTV Newscenter)

As Hua Hua became popular, Tan also gained widespread attention. The panda base has seen a significant increase in visitor numbers this year, with many fans flocking to specifically capture photos with Tan.

For Tan, the pandas are like members of his own family. "Taking care of pandas is like taking care of my own children. Watching them slowly grow up gives me a great sense of accomplishment."

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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