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China - Giant Panda Center

Volunteers are welcome to assist in an exciting and rewarding program with giant pandas in China. Make a real impact in saving this endangered species.



Fast Facts

Location of Project16 km from Ya’an City, China
Project Length1 Week
Arrival AirportChengdu
Volunteer WorkCaring for pandas, food preparation, cleaning enclosures, and observations
Number of ParticipantsBetween 5 - 10 international volunteers
Age18 - 50
Visas You must apply for this program 1 - 2 months in advance in order to have enough time to get your visa processed. All volunteers need a visa to enter China.
Age Exceptions This project accepts volunteers who are 16 years old with a letter of consent from a parent or guardian.
Family Option This project accepts families with children as young as 12 years old.

What's Included

AccommodationShared hostel room
FoodThree meals a day (excluding arrival day)
SupportLocal staff and 24hr emergency support
Airport TransfersAirport pickup upon arrival
Insurance Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage
Pre-Departure Kit Full project details will be sent following registration
Orientation All necessary training and introductions provided upon arrival

What's Not Included

Flights, personal expenses, meals on arrival day, visa (if required)


China is not only the most densely populated country in the world but also the oldest continuous civilization. At the forefront of technological development, China is a fusion of old and new world sentiment. With spectacular tourist attractions such as The Forbidden City, The Great Wall, Bund riverfront, and the exquisite Mandarin's Garden, China offers a vast landscape to explore. China also offers amazing cuisine, already having influenced many of its western counterparts, and a captivating cultural history. Experience the rich cultural traditions of China while exploring its breathtaking natural beauty. 


About the Project

Volunteers are welcome to assist in an exciting and rewarding program with giant pandas in China. The survival of this species has been threatened in the past, so all conservation efforts are of paramount importance.

The China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP) is located in Bifengxia, the branch of Woolong. For over 20 years the organization has worked for the preservation of the panda population and has now resolved three key problems of breeding which restricted reproduction of the panda for a long time. The current panda birth and survival rates are some of the best in the world. The panda population of the program has risen from an initial 6 animals to over 70 pandas. In 2003 the first stage of a state-of-the-art panda base was completed: a veritable panda paradise. It is divided into 6 sections: panda raising and breeding area, scientific study area, food preparing and animal hospital area, staff living area, bamboo base area, and tourist accommodation area.

Whilst volunteering on this program, you will also have the opportunity to participate in Chinese lessons, dumplings cooking lesson, Chinese chess and Mahjong!


Volunteer Work and Contribution

Volunteers are needed to assist in safeguarding the future of these most captivating animals. The program includes training on the care of pandas and volunteers will be assigned as an assistant to a trainer. Some of the activities may include:

  • Preparing food for the pandas such as apples, panda bread, and carrots
  • Chop and carry bamboo
  • Clean panda enclosures
  • Occasionally partake in observation and research (only with veterinary background)

Important note: Since March 2014 there has been, and continues to be, no close contact with the pandas. This is due to their sensitivity and sometimes aggressive nature. The reserve also has panda cub enclosures which are closed to visitors yet accessible to volunteers through viewing windows. 

The program for volunteers coming for 1 week is Sunday to Saturday. You will meet in Chengdu on Sunday, and spend a couple of days exploring the city. You will then be driven to the Panda Reserve on Tuesday. On Saturday you will be driven back to either Chegdu or to the airport.


Living Arrangements

Accommodations: For the first two nights in Chengdu you will be staying at a hostel in a shared room. During your volunteer placement, you will stay at a hostel located within the Panda Reserve, next to the Panda Conservation Base and surrounded by mountains. You will be sharing a room with another volunteer. All rooms have electric blankets for the Winter months and an attached bathroom with 24 hour hot water (Asian style toilets). 

Food: 3 meals a day are provided by the hostel restaurant. The food is made up of typical Chinese cuisine, consisting of rice, vegetables, noodles, and some meat. Please note that food is not provided on arrival day. 

Laundry: Laundry service available.

Internet: Free WiFi is available.


Travel Highlights

Chengdu is the capital of the Sichuan Province. It is a well-known city with a rich history and civilization. The province has many places of interest and is famous for its traditional arts and crafts, ethnic folklore and beautiful landscapes. The Shuangliu International Airport and the Chengdu Railway Station allow easy access for visitors to explore the region.

Past volunteers have enjoyed the following activities that this amazing area has to offer (not included in program cost, but the volunteer coordinators would be happy to help arrange these for you):

Visit Zhougong hot springs

Mount Qingcheng is one of the most famous Taoist mountains in China

Explore the city of Ya'an for shopping and general sight seeing

Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Leshan Giant Buddah in Chengdu

Walk around the ancient town of Shagli

Culture Week

For an additional fee, you have the option to join a one week orientation program prior to your volunteering week. You will get to know China firsthand through a variety of activities which may include meeting locals, learning useful phrases, visiting important cultural heritage sites, and participating in workshops such as cooking classes and calligraphy lessons. To register, please inform your operations manager after applying to the project!

Chinese Language Classes

If you are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of Chinese culture, consider enrolling in complementary language lessons! The classes meet once a day for an hour after your volunteering hours. To add this option to your project, simply update your operations manager after applying to the project and we will arrange this for you at no additional cost to you.


Minimum Requirements

  • Min age 17
  • Basic English and/or Chinese
  • Good physical fitness
  • Motivation to work with animals

Important Notes:

1. You should apply to this project at least 1 - 2 months before your chosen start date in order to ensure that you have enough time to obtain the proper visa.  The visa process is lengthy and can take up to 2 months.



Here's an excerpt of Amelia's experience:

"Feeding the pandas was an unforgettable experience. The pandas would rush to the entrance of the cage and lumber up to the front. My favorite panda, Susan, would hold a bar for support as she ate. They were so receptive and excited to get their special panda bread and carrots, relishing every bite."
Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog


Here's an excerpt of Alina's experience:

"After becoming acquainted with our panda keeper and pandas, we started our first job. It was necessary to clean the cage, removing the bamboo leaves and other garbage. After that, we started to clean their enclosures... In addition, we feed the pandas twice a day with carrot and special bread (named ”panda cake”), and sometimes apples."
Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog


Here's an excerpt of Matt's experience:

  "I am very glad that I was able to try volunteering in China and meet these adorable animals. Perhaps, such a trip is the best way to learn Chinese culture and see how China is living far away from big cities. Moreover, with with a unique opportunity to observe the life of pandas. I am sincerely grateful to the staff who have helped me in China and all of the company GoEco who helped organize my trip. It was one of the most memorable trips of my life!"

Read the rest of his story on the GoEco blog


Here's an excerpt of Catriona's experience:


"The work at the panda base wasn’t very hard, but it was extremely rewarding. I feel so grateful to have had this once in a lifetime experience, getting up close and personal with the pandas, learning their different personalities, and helping with their conservation. We were also part of an amazing group of volunteers, united by a love of pandas. We all got on really well and generally just had a great time together, both on and off the panda base. I will miss those crazies all most as much as I will miss my adorable new panda friends!"

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog

Here's an excerpt of Tian's experience:


"From Wednesday we started the volunteer project. We were grouped to assist at different stations; each station takes care of two to four pandas. An expert gave a wonderful lecture about the situation and behavior of the pandas. He shared his experience of being injured by an escaped panda. Although the pandas look cute, they can be very strong and sometimes dangerous!"

Read the rest of his story on the GoEco blog




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