Some of us travel for adventure, for culture, for the opportunity to meet new people.

And some of us travel to see all of the adorable animals.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the adventure, the culture and most of the people, most of the time. But I have to admit I have planned many trips where my sole purpose was to spy some unique and adorable animals.

One of those travels took me to the Giant Panda Research & Breeding Center in Chengdu, China, better known as the motherland for panda freaks the world over. It was there that I was handed my very own baby panda to cuddle for about 60 seconds. The baby panda was entirely un-phased. I was over-the-moon.

Do we love Giant Pandas because they are so cute, so seemingly cuddly? Or do we love them because we’ve been taught they are rare and special. The Giant Panda only lives in a few mountain ranges in central China, and there are very few of them left in the wild. They are rare and special indeed, the diamonds of the animal kingdom.

Truth be told, there aren’t even that many in captivity. Most every zoo worth its admission fee has a lion, a tiger and a bear, but only a select few can call themselves home for the Giant Panda. Even fewer reserves and zoos have the ever-elusive baby panda.

These are the places you should be visiting to get up close and personal with the world’s handful of adorable baby pandas.