WORK CONTENT AND DESCRIPTION
You’ll be joining us at the Bifengxia Giant Panda base, a branch of the China Conservation & Research Center for the Giant Panda and one of the largest of its kind. It started working in 2003 and suddenly grew in 2008 when Pandas were relocated here from Wolong Panda base, which was devastated in an earthquake that year.
But since this move, the panda population here has more than doubled - which is an amazing achievement. A big share of pandas which you see anywhere in the world has originally come from this panda reserve! The panda base is now looking to releasing the panda into the wild, fulfilling its long term ambition.
Get up close and personal, with both baby pandas who weigh only 100 grams at birth
and gradually develop to 60lbs in their second year of life and their far larger
parents that weigh a massive 250-350 lbs.
Your duties may vary depending on what is required of you at the time, so flexibility is essential. You will be involved in working about 4-6 hours a day side by side with panda caretakers by preparing food for the pandas such as apples, panda bread, carrots – and of course their favourite – bamboo, providing them with food you have put together, cleaning their enclosures and ensuring they are secure in their environment.
The keepers usually feed the Panda twice in the afternoon. However, this would depend on the individual condition of each Giant Panda and also other circumstances. We cannot guarantee the feeding times and also cannot ensure that every participant would be able to feed a Panda. Feeding tasks are assigned exclusively by the keepers.
Occasionally, you might also be asked to conduct some research of the panda’s habits and medical health so that we may extend our knowledge and experience in caring for this highly endangered species.
You’ll be able to see the panda nursery (approx. July to September), animal rescue, educational facilities, and much more.
Additional cultural activities: It's important to remember that Pandas are wild animals and naturally lazy and and will need some time to relax on their own! That’s why we offer plenty of Chinese lessons & cultural activities during their resting times, which you can take part in at your leisure. Some activities that you may take part in are:
- Chinese language lessons (Daily 16:00-18:00 upon request)
- Mahjong (Chinese chess)
- Chinese calligraphy
- Dumpling making
- And more!
If you're interested in animal conservation, this represents a real opportunity
to learn about the Giant Panda, something that is unique to China. A typical programme is as follows, but this will vary from week to week and season to season.
You will be collected from Chengdu airport and transferred to the city where you will stay for two nights.
Visit Chengdu’s Panda Breeding Center
A walking tour through the Chengdu City, visit the Tianfu Square, People’s park and the famous ancient pedestrian street of Kuan-zhai Alley
Welcome Dinner at a local hotpot restaurant.
Transfer to the Panda reserve (approx. 3 hours by public bus)
Lunch at the Panda Reserve Hostel
Orientation: Meet the team of the Panda Reserve and introduce yourself. Understand the rules and regulations, Read and sign the security agreements, watch a safety training video. Get the working manuals and assignments as well as information about the tasks you will carry out during the next days.
Registration is followed by the issue of uniforms, participant card etc. You'll form working groups. Each group will then elect a ‘Group Leader’.
Chinese lesson (optional)
Wednesday – Panda Reserve:
08:40- 12:00: Meet at the Gate of the Panda base at 8:40. A staff member will lead your group to your respective places of work. You should finish your tasks under the Panda keepers’ guidance, such as cleaning the Panda house and feeding the Panda. Tasks are decided on by the Panda keepers. During the break, you should fill in the form “My Panda and I”.
12:00 - 14:00: After completing the morning tasks, meet at the participant service center. At 12:20 staff will lead you to the Canteen for Lunch. After Lunch, you will return to the participant service center. You can take a rest or choose to watch a documentary about the Giant Panda.
14:00 – 15:00: Split into groups and make Panda cake in turns. Panda cake is a form of food for Pandas prepared from fresh ingredients.
15:00 – 16:00: Free time, you can proceed to complete the assignments if any or assist the staff if required.
16:00: Finish your tasks for the day and have free time
17:00 – 18:00: Free time or join in to making dumplings. Learn the secret behind tasty Chinese dumplings.
19:00: Free time. Optionally you can watch some “Panda Videos” or take a rest.
Thursday – Panda Reserve:
09:00-12:00: If there are 10 or more volunteers: Support the Panda reserve staff in simple research activities. These vary depending on need. If there are less than 10 participants: Prepare food for the Pandas and feed them.
12:00-13:30: A short break, then meet at the participant service center. At 12:20 staff will lead you to the canteen for lunch. Post Lunch, return to the service center and choose to take rest or continue to watch a documentary about the Giant Panda.
13:30-16:00: Return to where you worked the day before and feed the Panda under the keepers’ guidance. During the break you'll complete the “My Panda and I” form and any other related assignments.
16:00: Complete your tasks for the day
17:00 – 18:00: Free time or join our Chinese Calligraphy lessons. Learn the technique of drawing beautiful Chinese characters on paper.
19:00: Free time or you can spend your evening learning how to play Mahjong and have fun challenging your opponents. There is no doubt that once you get hooked on Mahjong it’s difficult to let go of it!
Friday – Panda Reserve:
09:00-12:00: If there are 10 or more volunteers: The Giant Pandas eats between 10 and 20 kilos of bamboo per day. Support the staff to plant more of it to ensure there’s enough food. If there are less than 10 volunteers: Prepare food for the Pandas and feed them.
12:00-13:30: A short break, then meet at the participant service center. At 12:20 staff will lead you to the canteen for lunch. Post lunch, return to the service center and choose to take rest or continue to watch a documentary about the Giant Panda.
13:30-15:00: Return to where you worked the day before and feed the Panda under the keepers’ guidance.
15:00 – 16:00: Your time at the Panda base is over. Return your work uniform, participant card and gloves and also submit the "My panda and I" form.
Summary meeting: Share your work experience with the others. Thereafter, the staff will issue certificates to everybody. Later, you can leave a message on the “Love wall”. All the participants and staff take a photo in front of the service center. Later the photo will be sent to you by email.
17:00: Free time. Optionally we arrange a visit to a local temple (Bifeng Temple). If you need to return to Chengdu early, e.g. for catching your flight on Saturday morning, now is the time. Our coordinator can help arrange your bus and a hostel in Chengdu.
19:00: You can choose to end your last day of stay at the Panda Base with a taste of Chinese cinema, watch a Chinese movie together at the activity room. Or you can choose to pack your things and get enough rest before your return journey.
Saturday – Chengdu:
After breakfast around 8:30 you will be transferred to Chengdu city or airport. You'll arrive at the airport around noon.
If this is the last week of your program (around Chengdu), it’s time for you to say goodbye. Otherwise, you'll stay in Chengdu to connect to your next program.
If you decide to leave at a different time (maybe because you want to travel further in the region, or your flight is not convenient to this time), you'll need to arrange and pay for different transport.
PROJECT START DATES AND HOLIDAYS:
Programmes start every Monday, all year round.
All programmes in China will be suspended on these dates:
February 5th - March 5th: Chinese New Year and public holidays