What you can expect:
The conservationist in you will be screaming to visit the Dujiangyan Panda Base where you can enroll in the Panda Keeper Program and take as many photos as you want next to a Panda. This is a rare, perhaps a lifetime chance to get very near to a Panda and hold one in your arms. Unfortunately, there is a daily quota of about sixty volunteers for the Panda Keeper Program, and twenty for taking photos. Therefore, it is prudent to inquire and make early bookings to avoid any inconveniences and disappointments. Bookings are available on a first come, first serve basis. Check the availability of dates beforehand and time your visit to coincide with your booking.
But what can you do when you visit the Dujiangyan Panda Base? You can feed a Panda with your hands, clean its enclosure, watch a special documentary detailing its life cycle, make panda cakes of various sizes, and receive a certificate showing your love for Panda.
Time schedule for panda keeper program:
This is the allocated time for pick up so be prepared. It will allow you ample time to spend with the Pandas. Your guide will call your hotel a day in advance to confirm the pick up details with you.
If you left the pick up point on time, expect to arrive at the Dujiangyan panda base at around this time. While here, your guide will usher you in and guide you step by step. You will first need to sign up as a volunteer.
Appropriate gear will then be handed to you; uniform, a pair of gloves as well as a volunteer’s card.
This is also where you’ll get the grand opportunity to meet the hardworking and ever professional panda keepers. These will be your team mates for the day. Please note that their English may be simple hence a barrier. However, your guide will intervene where needed. Prepare for some memorable photos of the activities with your loved ones.
9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
The activities will kick off by cleaning the panda bear enclosures. This is also their meal time so these beauties will be looking forward for their favorite dish, bamboo sticks.
Did you know that Pandas eat only 30% of the bamboo and waste 70%? Well, we thought you should know. You will also learn that they get fed three to four times a day. It takes a lot to maintain them in good health. After a hearty meal, the cages will need to be cleaned. Remember that there’s a lot of wasted bamboo laying around.
10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
You must be having an idea of how much hard work goes into caring for pandas at this point thanks to the trickle of sweat threatening to stream down your forehead. It’s time to take a break.
This is the perfect opportunity to tour the base, have a look around and listen to stories about the Pandas. It is at this time that you will also get to meet all the pandas living at the base. There are about 10 of them who were born abroad and brought to China.
You’ll be pleased to meet the ever popular and star of the show, Taj Shan anda Bao Bao who was previously living in the U.S. You will also be thrilled to meet the four cheeky red pandas.
Spend the rest of your break time taking leisure walks along the paved ways while listening to interesting stories about the panda bears.
11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
This is the moment that you’ve been waiting for, feeding the pandas. Besides bamboo, pandas get yummy treats at this time. These includes cakes, apples and carrots. You’ll enjoy feeding them using your own two hands.
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
You probably are hungry at this time hence the lunch break. There will be some Chinese food served at the canteen which includes two meat dishes and a vegetable dish. Be sure to pack some food or snacks just in case you do not like the food at the canteen. Thereafter, you can choose to stroll about or restn the volunteer office or resting room.
2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
More cleaning is required at this point. The bamboo that was fed to the pandas is probably dry at this point hence the need to clear and replace them. Some more cakes will need to be fed to the pandas.
3:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
You probably are curious about how these yummy panda cakes are made. Well, this is the time to satisfy your curiosity. You will be graced with the opportunity to bake the cakes although the ingredients will be prepared beforehand. You can make them in fancy shapes if you wish.
3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Sadly, this is where the volunteer work comes to an end. You will receive a certificate to prove that you volunteered to care for pandas. Say goodbye to these treasures then your guide will take you back to your hotel at Chengdu. Expect to arrive at around 5:30 p.m.
(a) Entrance to areas specified in itinerary
(b) Private guide services
(c) Private transfers between hotel and attractions
There also are activities that are prepared to enrich your experience;
(a) a photo of a panda
(b) Close up photo with a panda
Although the donation program is allowing you to take photos with the pandas, it is important to point out that this is not included in the panda keeper program.
Only 20 tourists are allowed to take photos with the pandas each day. The donation among us CNY1800. Ensure that you carry the fees in cash as non-Chinese credit cards aren’t accepted here.
- Booking Panda Keeper Program
It is highly advisable that you book this program in advance. Although the activities taking place are constant, they are subject to change depending on the health of the pandas. You can also opt to participate in the activities half day if your time is limited. The charges remain the same. All tourists are at liberty to extend or shorten their stay as they wish.
- Age Limit
The volunteers have to between 12-65 years. Pandas may appear harmless but they still are carnivores. Tourists must ensure that their children do not come into close contact with the pandas.
The price is the same for 12 year olds as for the 65 year olds. Children between the age of 0-11 years are welcome but they have to stay at the gate of the room where the panda bears are. They can watch you participate in the activities close to the pandas but not come into the room for safety purposes.
- Dress Code
Due to the activities involved, for instance, carrying bamboo, it is advisable not to wear shorts or slippery shoes.
These treasures are also keen on smell hence a advisable not to wear perfume or nail polish. Respect and care towards the pandas is highly appreciated.
- Alternative Transportation Options
You can choose to depart using a train or plane after the program. In this case, flights depart after 8 p.m. while trains depart after 7 p.m. 9 p.m. is the ideal time for international flights. You can leave the program early if your train or plane leaves earlier.