Volunteering with Pandas in China: Editor’s Pick of the Week
In 2008, a devastating earthquake destroyed the Hetaoping Wolong Panda Centre, which was China’s main panda reserve at the time. Following the quake, 40 giant pandas were transferred to their new home: the Bifengxia Panda Base.
Following this crisis, the centre has dealt with the pressure of accepting lots more pandas admirably, embracing its ever-growing role in protecting and caring for giant pandas. Today, the panda population at the centre has more than doubled, making Bifengxia Panda Base China’s largest panda conservation centre.
However, a booming giant panda population brings its own challenges, which is where you can step in as a volunteer…
Volunteering with Pandas
Without the support and hands-on help of volunteers, the centre’s staff would struggle to stay on top of daily tasks, like cleaning up after the bears, and feeding them. Especially because giant pandas are actually very hungry bears – they need to consume up to 40kg of bamboo each day, so feeding time comes around fairly often! They’re also pretty messy, so there’s a lot of cleaning of enclosures to be done (no-one said that volunteering with pandas was going to be a breeze…)
It’s not all hard work, though – volunteering with pandas is also incredibly rewarding. You’ll get the chance to watch these incredible bears close-up, and prepare special ‘panda cakes’ to feed to them! If you’re lucky, you might even get to see some adorable baby pandas at the nursery. Plus, when you’re not looking after the pandas you can learn some Chinese calligraphy skills, make dumplings, and try your hand at the ancient game of Mahjong.
The Future for the Species
By lending a hand with the practical day-to-day running of the centre, volunteers allow the expert team of panda carers to make real progress with their wider aims, which include protecting the species’ genetic variation, conducting behaviour and health research, and educating the public about panda conservation.
Thanks to the combined and ongoing efforts of the centre’s permanent staff and volunteers, it is hoped that one day the panda population will be stable enough to survive in the wild.
Why not make 2017 a year to remember? Learn more about volunteering with pandas in China.