Dujiangyan Base

When we were planning our trip to China and examining the options, there was one that jumped out at Karen, volunteering with the Pandas. At the Dujiangyan Base for research into Giant Pandas they have a program where you get to do some work near the Pandas. To be clear, you no longer get to touch the Pandas, however you do get to feed them which is pretty darn cute. A warning now. This is a very photo heavy blog post. The darn animals are just too cute.

Snack Time
For the safety of everyone the feeding is done through the bars. It is interesting how animals become conditioned to routines. The little slab that sticks out from the bars is for the panda to rest its arm on. It knows if it puts its arm there it will receive treats. That is how they get blood samples from the bears when they are doing their health checkups. It is also an easy way to do a quick check of their dental situation.
A Dream Come True
We fed them a carrot and a piece of what they call Panda Cake. A mixture of ingredients to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need.
Young Fellow
There are about twenty Pandas at this location. Including four young ones between 1 and 2 years old.
Large Enclosures
Pandas are solitary animals and each one had its own enclosure. Except the young ones who were still with their mother. The whole complex is beautifully situated and well laid out.
Shovelling Poop
It was not all fun and games though. We got to shovel up poop in the cages and enclosures, depositing it into bins so it could be weighed.
Clearing Away Breakfast
In addition to the poop, we had to clean up the left overs from feeding time. Which is all day by the way. The Pandas eat about 14kg of bamboo a day.
Preparing the Bamboo
We also got to prepare the bamboo for eating. This involved smacking it on the ground and having it break open. Very therapeutic I must say.
Yard Clean Up
As with the rest of China we have seen, we had to tidy up after ourselves and leave our work area neat and tidy.
Eating Machine
Because bamboo does not have a lot of nutritional value, the bears need to eat a lot of it. Though we crack it open for them, watching the way they work their way through it is amazing. And the way they easily snap it into pieces is a clue to just how strong these gentle looking giants are.

Now with all this work I am aware you are starting to feel sorry for us and wonder if we saw much of the Pandas. Don’t worry, the day included plenty of free time to wander around and take in the antics of these beautiful creatures.

The Easy Life
The variety of poses they used to eat was hilarious.
Relaxing in the Pool
Mom having some time away from the children.

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Contemplating Life
Chilling
Amputee Panda
This Panda, Dai Li, was rescued from the wild with a badly injured rear left leg. It had to be amputated, however he has adapted and is doing quite well in captivity. He was one of the ones we fed, and he was oh so gentle. Just a beautiful animal.
I Surrender
It is very easy at times to attribute human behaviour or thinking to the actions of these Bears. However the fact remains that they are wild animals. It is sad at times to see them in enclosures, but whenever bears that have been exposed to humans have been released into the wild they have sadly died. They do have a release program in China and have set aside thousands of hectares of wilderness for them to live. Time will tell if the program is a success.

 

Playtime
But before we get too serious. Let us just enjoy the antics of the young ones.
Resting
When not eating or playing, the young pandas sleep for about 12 hours a day. Apparently digesting bamboo is hard work.
As cute as it gets
The brother and sister in this enclosure were very entertaining to watch. The male here was particularly busy. Trying to climb over the balls here.
Oops
And promptly falling off backward.
Who is Watching Who?
At times I got the feeling this fellow was getting more entertainment watching the humans than the other way around.
Happy Campers
Very satisfied with our day with the pandas. And no, they wouldn’t let me go into the enclosures with the hat on.
A Dream Come True
Truly a dream come true.

We had a fantastic day with the pandas. As volunteers they even fed us, which was interesting, eating with the other workers there. If you are ever in Chengdu and are interested in pandas I would highly recommend the program.

Enjoy a short video of their antics.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to our travel blog. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to say, "I'm out of here?" Well we did, and in 2013 we made it a reality. We sold or gave away all of our possessions other than what fit in our luggage and we set off on an endless adventure. Part of our goal is to share our experiences with others and hopefully provide some information, motivation, or just a moments escape. The general idea was to look for a place that would be ideal to settle down in. However in the meantime it is about experiencing life in different countries amongst different cultures and learning how to understand and appreciate each other. A large part of our time is spent housesitting which provides an excellent opportunity to experience more of the "normal" neighbourhoods as opposed to the tourist locales. Though we make sure to enjoy those as well. So through plenty of photographs and a running commentary come and share with us our life on the road.

1 comment on “Giant Pandas

  1. What a wonderful day you had. These pandas are so cute. Such a trip is in my plan.

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