Abe Nobuko: A Japanese Giant Panda Keeper’s Dream Life

Authors: Hello Chengdu


Abe Nobuko, a Japanese girl, works in the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding as a giant panda keeper.
Being a panda keeper is no easy job, but Abe finds satisfaction because of her love of pandas. Keepers are "Manny" and "Nanny" to pandas, as they are nicknamed by panda fans. For Abe, each of the baby pandas is her child. She knows their different personalities: some love eating, some love playing around, some are sociable and some like to be left alone. Among them, Cheng Lang is quite special for her weight of 42.8 grams at birth, only one third of her elder sister Cheng Feng's weight. To help the newborn Cheng Lang feed, Abe milks the mother panda, Cheng Da, and feeds Cheng Lang with a special tiny milk bottle. The little panda's feeding posture is constantly adjusted until Cheng Lang's feeding problem is solved. Thanks to Abe and her colleagues' care, Cheng Lang gradually grew to be too heavy to be held by a nanny. "Watch her playing with her sister Cheng Feng. It feels to me like she's grown into a young lady," sighed Abe.
"I'm a panda lover and keeper. This job requires many abilities. But I think the most important is to love pandas," Abe concluded. In shooting the Japanese documentary film Jounetsu Tairiku in 2018, Abe had a chance to go to the top of IFS Building in downtown Chengdu and see the famous "wall-climbing panda" for the first time. "What a big panda!" She repeated this again and again in surprise. The cameraman asked her, "What would you call it?" "I feel he's looking at something so I want to give him the name called Wang Wang (wang means 'to look' in Chinese)." While giving this answer, Abe beamed.
Abe doesn't have a clear idea about her life in the future. What she knows clearly is that she wants to "live along with pandas", and nothing else. When she was asked for a final message to share with panda fans, Abe thought a bit and replied in a serious, promissory tone: "We will provide for these pandas with love. Don't worry."
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