Huahua the giant panda
Huahua, the new honorary chief of Chengdu’s Culture and Tourism Bureau, in China. Image Credit: Chengdu Municipal Bureau of Culture, Broadcast-TV, and Tourism

She can’t walk too well, is clumsy, sleeps a lot and is considered extremely adorable. Meet Huahua, the new honorary chief of Chengdu’s Culture and Tourism Bureau, in China. All of three years old, the Giant Panda has almost singlehandedly managed to boost the tourism of the southwest region.

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Huahua’s popularity has seen a rise since her birth in 2020. She captured the world’s imagination when videos of her, captured by visitors, trying to get a zookeeper to carry her, went viral.

Another viral video taken by fans was Huahua protecting her food from another panda.

Huahua’s popularity has said to have boosted the tourism industry in Chengdu so much that during the Labour Day (May 1) holiday last year, the base where she lives was the second-most popular tourist destination in all of China. The Giant Panda’s popularity peaked because of viral videos of her interactions with her caretaker, Tan Jintao, nicknamed “Grandpa Tan”.

He helps Huahua train her legs, which are weak due to developmental delays, by “secretly” giving her snacks.

Giant Pandas are considered the rarest member of the bear family, as per the World Wildlife Fund, and have been removed from the endangered list.

Huahua’s full name is Chenghehua, and she is located at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, southwest China.

According to multiple Chinese news reports, people queue for up to three hours just to catch a glimpse of her, every day. And more than 1,000 visitors line up, even before the facility opens at 7.30am.

So, what makes Huahua so popular?

“Her cute demeanour, a gentle temperament, and her inability to climb trees, which has become a favourite of millions of panda lovers,” the Sichuan Travel Guide explains.

Recently, in a video posted by the Culture and Tourism Bureau in Chengdu, Huahua’s appointment as the honorary chief was announced. The video shows a cartoon body dressed in a suit with Huahua’s head atop, holding an “appointment certificate”.

Huahua's appointment letter
A screengrab from the announcement video Image Credit: CGTN