Volunteering in China – Giant Pandas

Posted by: Alina A.

Volunteering in China at the Giant Panda Center project was the greatest experience I have ever had. I took part in a one-week culture program and received many bright and positive impressions. Therefore, I can imagine how much emotions received the other participants who stayed for two weeks.

My adventure began on March 6 when I had landed at the Chengdu Airport. We lived at the Mrs. Panda Hostel − comfortable, cozy and cute accommodation in the heart of Chengdu city. The first day was free so we relaxed and did whatever we wanted.

The next morning we visited my first panda base and it was my first acquaintance with giant pandas. While I was there I also saw small pandas and red pandas. The center is very big. Thus, I recommend that everyone visits it. After lunch, we walked around the city with our guide and then had dinner in one of the Chinese restaurants.

Next day (Tuesday) was the important day for all participants of the program because we went to the Giant Panda Center near Ya’an city. It took about 3 hours to get to our hostel. The center where we went after arrival was a two-minute walk from our hostel. There we signed all the necessary documents and received our special uniform with instructions for the next day. After lunch, we went hiking in the nearby mountain conservation with lots of waterfalls and other interesting natural objects

Then, the next morning after breakfast, the participants were divided into two groups. Each group had a definite place of work. My team was international and it contained three people from Sweden, an Australian girl and me from Belarus. We were led to our place of work where we met our panda keeper. She was a friendly English speaking woman and answered all of our questions with pleasure. She showed us ”our” pandas. There were three: two girls and one boy.

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. Finally, we prepared bamboo for the pandas: chopped and carried it. Quickly coped with the task, we went watching the cubs in the panda kindergarten. I think everybody fell in love with these little fluffy lumps of happiness.

Next days we showed up to the center after 8:30 am and cleaned cages at first, then cleaned the enclosures, and then prepared bamboo for pandas. In addition, we fed the pandas twice a day with carrot and special bread (named ”panda cake”), and sometimes apples. With time, everyone in our group had his ”own” loved panda.

During breaks between feeding, we watched cubs in the panda kindergarten, walking around the territory of the conservation, watching documentaries about pandas – there was a large screen on which the whole day was shown films. Out of working at the center, we went for a walk in Ya’an city, made dumplings at the cooking master class with our guide and had Chinese lessons, what is especially important when traveling in China.

My staying in the program was finished with a fun party at the Panda bar on Friday night. Saturday morning I was taken back to Chengdu city. I will miss this memorable time!