Volunteer with the Giant Panda in China
Work in China with Giant Pandas in the beautiful mountain region of the Bifengxia Panda Base which is part of the Wolong Nature Reserve, 150 kilometers from Chengdu City, the capital of Sichuan Province. If you are interested in animal conservation, this represents a fantastic opportunity to learn about something unique to China : the Giant Panda. Safeguard the future of one of the most endangered species in the world - the Giant Panda, in the beautiful mountainous area of Chengdu: home to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Leshan Giant Buddha. With only 1600 Giant Pandas left in the world you can play a real part in ensuring their survival. You may also have time to research and play with these most magnificent and adorable animals as they go about their daily lives.
Volunteering at the Panda Reserve offers you the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the Giant Panda, both the baby pandas and the grown ups. This is the largest Panda base in China and the work you do as well as the care you provide will genuinely help the Panda Reserve to protect these animals from extinction. 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.
Location: Bifengxia Panda Base, China
Start Dates 2014: 28 July, 4 August, 11 August, 18 August, 25 August, 1 September, 8 September, 15 September, 22 September, 29 September, 6 October, 20 October, 3 November, 17 November, 1 December, 15 December, 29 December
Arrival and departure: Chengdu airport on Sunday
Duration: The minimum duration is 1 week
About the Program
The Panda reserve has panda raising, reproduction, rare wild animal rescue and education facilities. On a daily basis, typical activities you will be involved in include cleaning the panda’s living areas, preparing food and feeding them. Occasionally, volunteers have been asked to conduct some research into their habits and health, so that we may extend our knowledge and caring activities for this highly endangered species.
Volunteers are needed to play a part in safeguarding the future of the Panda. The Giant Panda is one of the most delightful and captivating of animals, but also one of the most endangered species in the world. Estimates place the total number of pandas in the world at only about 1600 mostly in Sichuan Province. Their survival is uncertain. Saving this species is truly a race against time.
Volunteering in China with the giant panda is a fantastic experience. By joining this program you can make a difference in the conservation of these endangered species. Volunteers are welcome to join this exciting and very rewarding program with the giant hand us in China. In the past few years the survival of the panda's has been threatened which makes the conservation effort so important for these wonderful animals. This program also gives you the opportunity to participate in cultural activities.
As a volunteer you will be able to take part in this program which will enable you to assist in the safeguarding of the future of these wonderful animals. Volunteers will be assigned as an assistant to a member of staff at the panda reserve. The member of staff will be able to answer any questions that you have and instruct you during your volunteering with the pandas. Some of the volunteer activities that you might be involved in are : Prepare food for the pandas such as apples, panda bread, and carrots, chop and carry bamboo and cleaning the panda enclosures.
Where is the Program located?
Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province. It is a well-known city with a long-standing history and civilization. Chengdu, as early as 5,000 years ago, was a major trading hub southwestern China. Chengdu has many places of interest and is famous for its traditional arts and crafts, ethnic folklore, and beautiful landscapes. Chengdu sports an advantageous geographical location, as well as the Shuangliu International Airport.
Bifengxia Panda Conservation Base
China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda is located in Wolong Nature Reserve and was established by Chinese government cooperated with WWF in 1980. With the efforts over 20 years, it has already resolved three key problems of breeding: difficult mating, pregnancy and infant survival, which restricted reproduction of the giant panda for a long time. The panda birth and survival rates are improving. The captive panda population was developed from initial 6 to now over 70 animals.
How to get there?
You will be collected from Chengdu airport by one of the English speaking co-ordinators. Transfer times to the Panda base area as follows:- Chengdu Airport to Chengdu City about 30 to 40 minutes and then from Chengdu City to Panda Base about 3 hours by bus. Your first full day will be spent in Chengdu City and you will be transferred to the Panda base the following morning.
What are the departure arrangements?
Your transfer back to Chengdu airport is included in the price of the programme only on Saturday mornings when the programme ends. If you wish to make alternative plans or are continuing with your travels to tour China, our co-ordinators are happy to help you with making your own arrangements, including assisting with airport bus and/or taxi transportation to the airport but this will be at your own expense.
I've just returned to after a few months in Asia. Volunteering with the Pandas with WLS International was truly fantastic and all the transport and accommodation arrangements were perfect. I would go back tomorrow, if I could. Thank you for giving people the opportunity to do this!
Camilla du Toit (South Africa)
Food and Accommodation
You will stay in the volunteer accommodation. The volunteer accommodation is in a simple, cosy, recently renovated hostel. Accommodation is in twin rooms with TV, hot water and toilets. Laundry facilities are available for a small charge. There are also office facilities, free wi-fi and a book cabinet with a few books in different languages (please bring some more from your own country and leave them for the benefit of future participants!). There is a bar in the hostel, which is popular for parties, movies, and purchasing cold drinks as well as playing cards, Chinese chess and Mah-jong.
Meals are included. There are 3 meals per day on weekdays and 2 meals per day on weekends. These will be Chinese dishes typical of the local area, comprising mainly rice, noodles and vegetables.
Itinerary of the first week
Individual pick up from Chengdu airport.
Welcome dinner in the evening.
After a morning's rest, tour the city of Chengdu including local markets, parks and the famous ancient pedestrian street of Kuan-zhai Alley. Visit the Business quarter. Later, join us at the welcome dinner in one of the City’s restaurants.
Transfer to the Panda Reserve (about 3 hours by bus). Lunch at the Panda base. Afternoon briefing and introduction to the work you will be doing. Also registration (where you will be issued with your uniform, volunteer card etc). Guided tour of the Panda base and meet the panda keepers whom you will be assisting.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
For the next 3 days you will work as an assistant to the Panda Keeper.
General duties include :
Assist the panda keeper
Clean the bedroom and the garden for the giant panda
Prepare food (carrot, apples, panda bread and biscuit)
Chop and carry the bamboo.
Weekends are free for site-seeing. Guidance is available on site.
If you are finishing your program then Saturday there is the 8am transfer to Chengdu City for your departure. Afternoon flights are recommended for your return flight.
*Changes to the schedule are possible
Are There Any Shops?
There are many small local stores in the panda base which serve beer, fizzy drinks, cigarettes, snacks and ice creams. A greater range of shops including supermarkets and pharmacies are available in the nearby town of Ya’an (literally translated: elegant and quiet city) which is an easy half hour bus ride from the panda base
What Communication Facilities Are There?
There are free Wi-fi facilities in the Panda Base as well as at the hostel. Make sure you keep your phones/laptops/cameras fully charged as there are limited points for charging them outside the hostel.
What Is There To Do In The Panda Base During My Free Time During The Week?
The Panda Base is on a mountain, so do not expect the bright lights, clubs and bars of a large metropolis! It is usually a quiet, peaceful and tranquil get away from it all location where the loudest noises are the birds singing to wake you up at dawn.
During your free time you can:
Visit the wild animals at the zoo, about 10 minutes free bus from the Panda Base.
Go trekking to the waterfall area. There are many famous waterfalls in the mountain close to the Panda Base, set in peaceful and beautiful natural scenery and mountain fresh air.
Visit the local market and ancient bridge in Ya'an city. It is a good way to experience local customs and practices.
But most of all enjoy the panda base! It is an ideal place for tourism and an important base for scientific education. It is a paradise with a beautiful environment, favourable climate and luxuriantly green forest and of course, the Giant Pandas!
What Can I Do At Weekends?
You are welcome to stay at the Panda Base. But many participants organize activities such as these :
visit Shangli old town
visit the famous Jinli night fair or the Wuhou shrine and the Tibetan quarter in Chengdu city
go trekking on Emei mountain or Mount Qingcheng
see the Giant Buddha, view the Dujiangyan Dam
go shopping and see the sights in Ya’an city.
Your coordinator will help you plan these trips and help you to organise transport and hostels or hotels depending on your budget.
What Money Will I Need?
There are not many opportunities to spend your money at the Panda base. Beer, fizzy drinks and snacks can all be purchased cheaply. Around 200 Chinese Yuan a week should be enough. You will however need money for extras such as taking pictures of or playing with Pandas, see below, as well as self organized weekend trips. You should note that the nearest ATM that accepts international bank or credit cards is an hour away by car so it is very important that you get cash out at the airport upon your arrival or in Chengdu when you are there.
What Extra Options Are There Regarding Accommodation?
Whilst at the panda base the standard accommodation is in twin bedrooms with bathroom. You can choose to upgrade in the same hostel with your own room and air conditioning. This option may be particularly attractive to older participants with a somewhat larger budget who choose to spend that on their home comforts. Please note that the cost of these is additional to the cost of the program, contact us for details.
How long can I volunteer for?
The minimum stay is one week. However we recommend at least two weeks to give you time to get the most out of your stay as your first 2 days will be spent on induction and orientation.
Photos with the Pandas
Photographs of you holding or touching a panda for which the reserve asks for a contribution/donation to the upkeep of the reserve of (for a young panda) 1000 Yuan for 20 seconds or 2000 Yuan for 3 minutes; for pandas less than 1 year old the contributions are 1500 Yuan for 20 seconds and 3000 Yuan for 3 minutes. Please note these figures are subject to change by the Panda Reserve without notice.
You need to be minimum 18 years old or be accompanied by an adult. Also you need to be in good physical health with a positive attitude towards volunteering. Volunteers aged 16 and 17 can join provided they have a letter of consent from their parents.
Fotos of the Program
Click here to see photos of this program on Flickr
Airport pick up on arrival day
One day in Chengdu: Orientation + Tour
Transfer to the Panda Reserve
All Food & Accommodation
Program as per Itinerary
24 Hours local support
Transfer back to Chengdu on Saturday morning when the program ends
Not included in the prices is your flight, insurance, visa, personal expenses.
How to book?
Booking this program starts by filling out the online application form. Participants are encouraged to submit their applications as far in advance as possible as places are limited. Late applications however are welcome and we will get back to you within 48 hours to let you know if you have been accepted to our program.
Got any questions about going to China? Contact us now and ask our team!