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May 12 was the first anniversary of the devastating Sichuan earthquake in China, and action star Jackie Chan marked the day by visiting the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in the region.

During the visit, Chan donated US$146,600 to the facility and also became the “adoptive parent” of two panda babies that were born in August last year. He named them “Cheng Cheng” and “Long Long” after his Chinese name, Cheng Long.

Chan said that the first time he’d seen a panda up close was in a zoo in Berlin about 10 years ago, and that he had realized that it was impossible to look at it without smiling and forgetting all worries.

He encouraged his fans all over the world to support the great work being done at the research base. Founded in 1987, the facility looks after 83 pandas that have been bred from an original six individuals. The base is a world leader in research into pandas and their plight in the wild, and acts as a conservation education center and international educational tourism destination.

To find out more about the facility, visit the official website.

Chan also visited students who survived last year’s earthquake at Beichuan Middle School, one of the worst-hit schools in the region. More than 1,000 students and teachers of the school are dead or missing after the disaster.

Chan spent time with the students on Monday, and sang with them to boost their morale.

“We would not have such bright smiles today without a strong nation,” said schoolmaster Liu Yachun. “I hope every student can make best use of time, remember the love, make a better self and help build a strong nation.”

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