Famous faces head to Sichuan research base
Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton flew to see the pandas in Chengdu in early April before the F1 Chinese Grand Prix, as he believed the pandas would bring him luck.
Hamilton said he never doubted the pandas would bring him luck as their black and white colors are a good omen, since they are the same colors as the flag waved when the winning driver crosses the finish line in motor racing.
Hamilton's trip to Chengdu was part of a a cultural exchange activity called Love and Speed.
On April 4, he paid an afternoon visit to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, which was founded in 1987 and focuses on the research, breeding and conservation of giant pandas.
As a lifelong animal lover, he said that he has always dreamed of visiting the hometown of pandas. Pandas are his favorite, because they look so cute and soft, he said.
Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan province, is famous for giant pandas, spicy cuisine and slow pace of life. According to the official website of the research base, Chengdu has been the ancestral homeland of giant pandas since ancient times and fossil records indicate that pandas inhabited this area close to 4,000 years ago.
Hamilton took a close look at the panda cubs, watched videos at the Panda Scientific Discovery Center and learned how to say the word "panda" in Chinese.
Pandas in the research base are very different from those on TV and seeing them with his own eyes was very impressive, he said.
Hamilton was not the first famous person to visit the pandas in Chengdu. In July 2016, delegates of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting went to visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
Watching panda cubs lying in the incubator, Christine Lagarde, president of the International Monetary Fund, said they were so cute.
When a panda named Siyuan embraced bamboo with its arms and fell down with a loud "bang", Anne Le Lorier, deputy governor of the Bank of France, said that people used to describe big warm hugs as "bear hugs" and that maybe it would be more proper to say "panda hug".
Frank Moss, director-general of the international and European relations department of the European Central Bank, said pandas represent China and the country's economic image.
In 2014, then first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, and her daughters came to the base. They fed the pandas apples and met the cub Meilan, which was born in the US.
She signed the base's guest book, commending the workers at the base for their efforts to protect and raise the bears.
Dimash Kudaibergen, a noted singer in Kazakh- stan, fed the pandas during a visit to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in February. The singer said it was his dream to see the giant pandas, and Chengdu was the city that realized his dream.