There are so many reasons you should consider volunteering for a semester in China, but one of the big ones is the pandas! There aren't many places around the world you can visit pandas and even fewer places where you can volunteer to work with them!
That's right, I said volunteer with pandas! That is probably the only thing better than just seeing them from behind a fence. Our ILP China volunteers make special trips out just to see these pandas (because it just makes their ILP vacations that much better)!
I know you're wondering about these ILP volunteers and how you can become one. Go ahead and see what a day in the life of a China volunteer looks like (WARNING: you will want to become one).
How to volunteer with pandas in China?
To volunteer with the pandas, you're going to need to go to Shenshuping Panda Base. You will participate in a pre-work training where you will learn everything you need to know about feeding, cleaning and playing with the pandas. You'll then participate in a full day of activities with the animals!
About the Shenshuping Panda Base
The Shenshuping Panda Base (a.k.a the Wolong Panda Reserve) is located in Chengdu and is the largest breeding center for giant pandas in the world -- it's home to 60% of the world's total panda population. The giant pandas are endangered animals, so this center is extra important to this breed. The volunteer program was established as a way to get the funds to care for the pandas as well as get the community involved in saving them.
Requirements to be a volunteer
To become a volunteer you must meet these requirements:
- Be between the ages of 12-65 years old
- Have a valid Chinese visa
- Have a valid passport
- Complete a physical signed by your doctor before you arrive
- Pay the fee
How much does it cost?
The volunteer program can be found for different prices (typically between $50-$150) depending on which program and website you use. If you're going all out on this experience, you can also add hold a baby panda for $275-ish.
Activities you can participate in with the pandas
There are so many different things you will get to do with the pandas and you will get the full experience from being a caretaker, friend and food server. Here's a rough schedule of the activities you will get to participate in:
This may not be the most fun activity, but you will get a look into what it's like to be a true caretaker! You will clean the houses, move bamboo and get rid of panda poop. This will take about an hour and 20 minutes.
Now we're talking! You will feed them carrots, cake and some of their other favorites for about 30 minutes.
Learn how to make the giant panda cakes and learn why it's good for them! This will take about 30 minutes.
Panda science education
Learn all the mysteries of pandas and find out how you can help protect them. This also takes about 30 minutes.
Visit the panda breeding area
You will get to visit the pandas and take some great pictures in here!
Learn facts, hear stories and gain a deeper knowledge of the giant pandas!
Watch movies about the giant pandas and learn things like why they are known as a living fossil and how humans/pandas live harmoniously (this will take about an hour).
After you complete all the activities, you will be rewarded with a panda certificate and badge to complete your experience (who doesn't love awards??).
If you decide that you don't have a full day or the budget to put towards interacting with pandas, we recommend going to this location instead (it's still in Chengdu!). It's just easier to get to and bigger. This is where most go to see pandas.
Prepare yourself to be living in China for a semester by looking at our ILP blog (there are so many travel tips, hidden gems and words of advice you don't want to miss). You can also click below to get some more in details info about China!