Home China Guide Giant Pandas How to Do Giant Panda Volunteer Programs in Chengdu, China

How to Do Giant Panda Volunteer Programs in Chengdu, China

Feeding the pandaFeeding the panda

Giant panda volunteer programs give participants a unique experience of close contact with giant pandas. During the programs, participants learn about giant pandas through working with skilled panda keepers and researchers in taking care of the pandas. At the end of the program, each participant is issued a panda volunteer certificate.

Where Can I Join a Volunteer Program?

Currently, only Dujiangyan Giant Panda Valley, 1½ hours’ drive from Chengdu, offers a giant panda volunteer program. Dujiangyan is a newly-opened giant panda base, which has 10 pandas. The base focuses on breeding, wilderness training, and releasing of pandas into the wild. Read more on Dujiangyan Panda Valley.

Bifengxia Giant Panda Base, the largest giant panda base in the world, has suspended its program. We will update the information on our site when it reopens.

Who Can Join a Volunteer Program?

There is no restriction to the age of volunteers, but we do not recommend this program to children under 6 years old. Even though the pandas look harmless and cuddly, they are still bears. Parents please take care and protect the children from direct touch with the pandas. The cost for children above 6 years old (including 6 years old) is the same as adult's.

If your children are between 2-5 years old and are too young to work for pandas, you can still take them with you during the program. Your guide will help take care of them. The cost for these children is US$120 cheaper per person than the adult's.

If your children are under 2 years old and are taken care by you, no tour cost is needed.

When May Volunteer Programs Be Unavailable?

Programs may become fully booked, as there is a limited number of places on volunteer programs each day. We recommend booking at least one week in advance.

Giant panda volunteer programs are not available during the Chinese New Year Holiday (in late January or early/mid February).

They are probably available during Labor Day (May 1) and Chinese National Day (October 1). However, you should contact us to confirm one month in advance.

Note: Due to summer vacation, the daily quota for volunteer program has been fully booked before August 21, 2015. Please confirm soon to secure the quota after August 21 (including August 21).

What Does a Panda Volunteer Program Consist Of?

panda volunteer program

Giant Panda volunteer programMaking panda cakes

Volunteer activities may include:

  • A tour around the panda base
  • Learning about giant pandas and how to perform panda behavior research
  • Watching documentary films about giant pandas
  • Cleaning and weighing fresh bamboo
  • Feeding the pandas (usually through the cage bars, for safety reasons)
  • Cleaning panda enclosures
  • Collecting and weighing the pandas’ feces (one of the most effective ways of monitoring the pandas' health)

How to Take a Volunteer Program

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Because giant pandas typically lead a solitary life, sometimes it is very hard for them to tolerate outside influence. It is best not to disturb their peaceful life for their health, and some of the activities might therefore be changed.

The activities are subject to the panda base's arrangements, according to what is deemed best for the pandas, which is beyond our control. We suggest volunteers have a patient and cooperative attitude.

  • Please do not make noises or sudden movements that might startle the pandas.
  • Please do not approach or throw food to the pandas, unless the panda keeper tells you to do so. It might disturb the panda’s eating regime and cause them to become sick.
  • Follow the panda keeper’s instructions. For your safety, do not get into the cage, touch the adult pandas or let them touch you, unless the panda keeper tells you to do so.
  • Do not take photos or videos unless it’s allowed. Taking photos of pandas or holding a panda will incur extra costs.

To be more prepared for what to expect, watch a video of a volunteer program in Bifengxia Panda Base.

One-Day Dujiangyan Panda Keeper Program Tour

Departure: Daily
Price: from US$279

Itinerary:

7:00am–8:30am: Our guide and driver pick you up from your hotel in Chengdu.

8:30am–11:30am: Arrive at Dujiangyan Panda Valley. You will learn more about the pandas, and help take care of them. The activities may include cleaning panda enclosures, feeding the pandas, and making panda cakes.

11:30am–2:00pm: Lunch at the canteen of Dujiangyan Panda Valley. And then watch a panda movie that lasts for about 40 minutes.

2:00pm–3:30pm: Continue the program in the afternoon.

3:30pm–4:00pm: The panda keeper program finishes. You will receive a panda keeper certificate. Transfer back to your hotel in Chengdu.

5:30 pm: Arrive at your hotel in Chengdu.

Price inclusions:

  • Entrance to Dujiangyan Panda Valley
  • Dujiangyan Panda Valley Panda Keeper Program fee
  • English speaking guide
  • Private transfers between your hotel in Chengdu and the panda base
  • Simple lunch

Price exclusions:

  • Costs for photos/videos of pandas and holding pandas
  • Customer purchases at the base
  • Anything else not mentioned on the itinerary

If you just want to take pictures holding pandas...

If you don't want to join a panda keeper program, and only want to hold a panda for photos, the tour to Dujiangyan Panda Valley takes about 5 hours and we can arrange this half day tour for you.

Find more details and options on One-Day Dujiangyan Panda Keeper Program Tour.

More Giant Panda Volunteer Program Tours

The above itinerary is part of our popular 4-Day Panda Keeper and Chengdu Highlights Tour.

You could also customize our other Chengdu tours to include a panda keeper experience, or use our expertise to tailor-make your own panda program trip.