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WORTHWHILE VOLUNTEERING ABROAD
Organising Voluntary Projects Overseas since 1994.

SUMMARY OVERVIEW

Chubby black and white cute bears, chewing on bamboo, peaceful yet playful at times, it’s hard not to be charmed by the Giant Panda!.

Give your time to caring for and researching these magnificent gentle giants as they go about their daily lives in the largest Panda base in China, where the focus is on protecting and building a safe environment in which to begin the possible reintroduction of Giant Pandas into the wild.

Price:
Please see the Prices Page. Prices for all projects are listed and you can choose which currency you'd like to see them in. Prices exclude flights.
Duration:
Projects are a fixed length of 1 week. Longer projects are not available.
Start Dates:
Projects start every Sunday.
Requirements:
Minimum age 16, or younger if accompanied by a parent or guardian. No qualifications necessary.
What's included:
  • Arranging your Programme
  • Payment Protection insurance
  • Full pre-departure support and assistance
  • Personalised online project portal where you'll access all information your programme, health & safety and country advice.
  • Your own dedicated Project Co-ordinator to help you throughout the pre-departure process
  • Meeting you at the Airport
  • Transfer to your project site
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Full safety, support and back up from our local in-country team.
  • Project orientation & induction on your arrival.
  • 24-hr emergency support.
What's not included: Flights, Travel Insurance, Cost of Visas, Return to the airport (but we can arrange this for you).
Who can do this Programme?
All projects are open to all nationalities. Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in working with pandas or wildlife, conservation, animal welfare and care.

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PROJECT CONTENT

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 to their far larger parents that weigh a massive 250-350 lbs.

In the last 2 years the volunteer work at the panda base has contributed to the doubling of the panda population – which is an amazing achievement. The numbers are now such that the panda reserve can at last experiment with returning them to the wild.

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
    • Papercraft
    • 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.

    Sunday:
    You will be collected from Chengdu airport and transferred to the city where you will stay for two nights.

    Monday:
    Breakfast
    Visit Chengdu’s Panda Breeding Center
    Lunch
    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.

    Tuesday:
    Breakfast
    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’.
    Dinner
    Chinese lesson (optional)

    Wednesday – Panda Reserve:
    08:00: Breakfast
    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.
    18:00: Dinner
    19:00: Free time. Optionally you can watch some “Panda Videos” or take a rest.

    Thursdau – Panda Reserve:
    08:00: Breakfast
    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.
    18:00: Dinner
    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!

    Thursdau – 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.
    18:00: Dinner
    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.

    Friday – 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.

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ACCOMMODATION

Accommodation at Chengdu:
When you arrive, your accommodation for the first two nights will be at Chengdu. Here you'll stay in a hostel room with between 4 and 8 other people. It has a shared bathroom with hot shower.

At the Panda Base:
You'll then be transferred to the Panda Base. The Greenway Centre in the Ya’an Panda base has been chosen to give you a special environment for your visit to China. It is located 1,100 metres above sea-level with an average temperature of 15 degrees. It is perfect for the pandas – and for you!

The Centre is in a pleasant, cosy, recently renovated hostel. Accommodation is in twin rooms with TV, 24-hour hot water and toilets. If you prefer, upgrade options are available (please contact us for further details).

Wi-Fi / Internet: Wifi is available and it's free.

Laundry facilities are available for a small charge (roughly 20 CNY each time). Other facilities include a book cabinet with a few books in different languages. There’s also a small shop where you are able to buy the basics like drinks and snacks.

FOOD:

At the Centre you will be provided with three meals a day - breakfast, lunch and dinner. These will be Chinese dishes typical of the local area, comprising mainly rice, noodles and vegetables with some meat.

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MORE INFORMATION

ABOUT THE PANDA CONSERVATION CENTRE:

The Woolong Nature Reserve was first established in June 1980 by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Chinese Government as a research centre for endangered animals in China. This led to the opening of the Giant Panda Conservation Centre in 2004. Since the beginning of this movement, 66 Giant panda cubs have successfully been bred.

The purpose of the Conservation Centre is to increase the numbers of Giant Pandas found in the world and potentially begin to reintroduce them back into the wild. This requires the protection of their natural habitat and their major food source, bamboo.

The Panda centre has established a 90% survival rate for Giant Panda cubs due to its development in raising twin cubs. In nature a Panda is only able to raise and protect one cub at a time. However, with the help of caretakers in the nursery, they are able to leave one cub with the mother to nurse and bond, while another is placed in an incubator and hand-raised. Here Staff will stay with the baby panda for 24 hours a day, every day, for one week and then the cubs are swopped around. This results in both cubs being able to be naturally raised by their mother and receive the care that only she is able to give.

WHY IS THE GIANT PANDA ENDANGERED?
Giant Pandas are naturally solitary creatures that move freely from area to area seeking out fresh bamboo (their staple diet), creating avenues in order to come together in spring and mate. This magnificent creature that is known to have survive the ice age, has over the years been faced with great challenges, such as their natural habitat decreasing significantly due to the expansion of humans: the development of new roads, towns and power lines resulting in the need for more logging and thus haltering the natural migration and contributing to the lack of bamboo. (Bamboo requires shade in order to grow.)

This has resulted in Giants Pandas being unable to find new food and thus preventing male and female Giant Pandas from finding one another and being able to mate and increase their numbers in the wild. The 2008 earthquake in China also had a devastating effect on the Giant Pandas' natural habitat and food sources, thus further decreasing the number of Giant Pandas found in the wild.

ARRIVAL AND TRANSPORT TO YOUR PROJECT
Please note that this will vary from week to week and season to season. You'LL fly into Chengdu airport on a Sunday where you will be collected by one of our coordinators. You will then travel to Chengdu City which is approx. 30-40 minutes away where you will spend your first day, giving you time to relax and rest. Monday will be spent touring the city of Chengdu including the local markets, parks and later you will be invited to a welcome dinner.

The following morning you will be transferred to the Panda base which is approx. 3 hours away, where you will have lunch at the panda base with a briefing and introduction to your work content in the afternoon. Registration will also take place, where you will receive your uniform and volunteer card before you will receive a guided tour before dinner.

As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in mind. Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this wonderful opportunity!

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