ANIMALS & WILDLIFE CHENGDU CHINA VOLUNTEERING & CHARITY

A DREAM DAY WITH PANDAS IN CHENGDU, CHINA

November 16, 2017

I am currently performing in a musical that has brought me on a five-month long international leg to China; somewhere that had never really been at the top of my travel bucket list. How wrong was I? China is literally full to the brim with magical things I would love to tell you all about, but for now I’ll stick to one little gem.

A DREAM DAY WITH PANDAS IN CHENGDU, CHINA

I have been lucky to see some incredible places and experience some amazing things, but one of my favourite days was spent cleaning up panda poop (yes, you read that correctly!). I was the happiest version of me while cleaning up a beautiful black and white creature’s waste and unwanted bamboo!

A DREAM DAY WITH PANDAS IN CHENGDU, CHINA

We were based in Chongqing for a couple of weeks, which is only a couple of hours by high-speed train from Chengdu, the home of the giant panda. A lot of the usual travel search engines are full of different organized trips to go and see China’s national treasure. All with varying prices, so after a lot of research I settled on China Highlights Panda Keeper program at Dujiangyan Panda Base, short for the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP) Dujiangyan Base.

A DREAM DAY WITH PANDAS IN CHENGDU, CHINA

The day was phenomenal. Firstly they deck you out in their volunteer jumpsuits, which I absolutely loved! I’m not sure if boiler suits are making a come back any time soon, but once we’d all rolled up our sleeves a bit, they were pretty cool! At the base they keep the volunteer numbers low so that you have more time with the pandas. We were a group of ten and were split down even further so that we ended up almost being two people looking after one panda. People can pay an entry fee just to wander around the park, but there were special ‘keeper only’ areas, which we obviously had full access to. We did feel smug being in the enclosures while other visitors were kept at a distance!

A DREAM DAY WITH PANDAS IN CHENGDU, CHINA

As I have already mentioned we had the pleasurable job of sweeping up the unwanted bamboo and the task of clearing up panda poop. As a side note, it doesn’t smell so isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds! We then got to feed these amazing animals by hand. The keepers have trained the bears to put one arm through their bars while they eat. So that its easier for them to take blood, or to inject any medication or vitamins that each panda may need to keep them on top form.

A DREAM DAY WITH PANDAS IN CHENGDU, CHINA

I couldn’t quite believe how human these animals are. Their eyes are truly beautiful, they give eye contact and appear to truly be studying us as much as we are them. Their movements are so human – the way they sit, and grasp their food. It sounds silly but I did half expect someone to step out afterwards, as if they’d been wearing a panda costume!

A DREAM DAY WITH PANDAS IN CHENGDU, CHINA

Pandas over the age of four are kept in separate enclosures. We learned that this is because they would fight if they were in a space together. Without sounding ridiculous, their enclosures are amazing! They each have a huge amount of space, trees, toys, and a plentiful amount of bamboo. I was so happy to see them so well looked after. Compared to how we’d normally see animals in a zoo, these bears really are living the high life!

A DREAM DAY WITH PANDAS IN CHENGDU, CHINA

There is an option to pay an extra donation to the sanctuary (1800rmb) to sit next to a one or two-year old panda and have photos taken along with one on one interactive time. This is one of those things that I would whole heartedly recommend if you have the funds. In my mind, I just didn’t want to leave China with any regrets, and if I hadn’t hugged a panda that day I would have been a sad girl on that plane back to London! In my mind it was worth every penny.

A DREAM DAY WITH PANDAS IN CHENGDU, CHINA

My one bit of advice is to be brave, as soon as you sit next to that squishy little ball of fur. If you want to hug it, hug it, or if you’re me and want to go in for the kiss, do it! Time is quite limited and it will be over before you know it, so make that move! However what is fantastic is that a member of staff will be there to take your phone to capture every millisecond of your perfect panda moment.

A DREAM DAY WITH PANDAS IN CHENGDU, CHINA

I really can’t recommend this day highly enough. We had a fantastic guide who’s love of these beautiful bears was so clear and her knowledge was endless. So if you ever find yourself near a high-speed train line that passes through Chengdu and have a free day please go see these fur babies! Now I’m off to go and sit in my free volunteer t-shirt while planning my next little adventure!

Have you ever visited Panda’s in Chengdu? We’d love to hear your advice and tips in the comment section below! Read Next > Volunteering At Esteriliza Y Educa Dog Sanctuary Mexico

By We Are Travel Girls Contributor Steph Elstob of BrightEyedRosie.Wordpress.com
Connect with Steph Instagram | Facebook

A DREAM DAY WITH PANDAS IN CHENGDU CHINA

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6 Comments

  • Reply Michelle November 22, 2017 at 7:57 am

    So amazing!! I’m moving to China in February and can’t wait to do this 🙂

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls November 27, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      Thanks for reading Michelle! How exciting you are moving to China! If you ever want to write about your location move, or China tips please head to wearetravelgirls.com/contribute to share your story. Thanks! Becky – Founder, We Are Travel Girls

    • Reply Steph Elstob February 1, 2018 at 4:14 am

      Oh my gosh how exciting! Whereabouts in China are you moving too? I did a 5 month tour over there so covered a lot of cities! I’d love to tell you some of my favourite finds ! x

  • Reply Angie (FeetDoTravel) November 28, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Yes I have cuddled a panda! This was top of my bucket list so we made a trip to China for a special birthday and oh my days, what an incredible experience! But what do you do when you have done the “one thing to do before you die”??? Do it again I say, so now top of my bucket list is to volunteer with pandas like you did (I did read of somewhere you can do this for 5 days and your accommodation is with other volunteers but that could be another Research Base, there are a few in Chengdu). That feeling of sitting next to these beautiful animals is amazing isn’t it, and over all to quickly – the quickest (most expensive!) 2 minutes of my life but it was worth every single second!

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls November 30, 2017 at 4:05 am

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting Angie, it sounds like you had an amazing experience with the pandas and I can imagine why you would like to do it again! If you do any volunteering and would like to write about it, or any other travel expereince for We Are Travel Girls we would love to see an article submission from you! wearetravelgirls.com/contribute. Thanks! Becky – Founder, We Are Travel Girls

    • Reply Steph Elstob February 1, 2018 at 4:17 am

      Yes I completely agree, it was one of the most special experiences!!!
      The panda base I wrote about do a longer volunteer programme I think, may be worth checking it out on their website. The staff were so lovely and incredibly knowledgable about each panda they looked after.
      Would love to read about it if you do spend more time with the pandas! x

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