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 You Can Engage in a Volunteer Program — Dujiangyan and Wolong
Currently, Dujiangyan Base and Wolong Base offer giant panda volunteer programs.
Dujiangyan Panda Base was established in 2014, and has 20 pandas. The base focuses on breeding, wilderness training, and releasing of pandas into the wild. It’s about 1½ hours from Chengdu by car. Read more on Dujiangyan Base.
Wolong is known as “the real hometown of giant pandas”. Wolong Panda Base was devastated by the earthquake in 2008. Now it has been reopened, it also provides a panda volunteer program, and there are about 30 giant pandas. You can hike in panda habitat to explore panda’s hometown. Wolong Base is about 3 hours from Chengdu by car.
- 1-Day Dujiangyan Panda Keeper Program Tour
- 1-Day Chengdu Panda and Sichuan Cuisine Tour
- 4-Day Wolong In-Depth Panda Tour
Who Can Join a Volunteer Program — 12–65-Year-Olds
The age restriction of volunteer is between 12 to 65 years old. Even though the pandas look harmless, they are carnivores. Parents must ensure that they prevent their children from coming into direct contact with the pandas. The cost for children of 12 years old and above is the same as the cost for adults.
If your children are between 2–11 years old, you can still take them with you during the program. Your guide will help to take care of them. The cost for children in this age group is around US$120 cheaper per person than the price for adults.
If your children are under 2 years old and you take care of them throughout the day, 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.
What Does a Panda Volunteer Program Consist Of?
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)
Contact us for a private tour of Leshan and Mount Emei.
Panda Volunteer Program Tips
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 will incur extra costs.
To protect yourself when carrying bamboo, please do not wear short pants or slippery footwear. Also, pandas have a very keen sense of smell. As you will get very close to them during the tour, please do not wear perfume or nail polish. Our sincere thanks for your extra care and respect towards the pandas.
One-Day Dujiangyan Panda Keeper Program Tour
Price: From US$279 per person
7:00am: Our guide and driver pick you up from your hotel in Chengdu.
8:30am–11:30am: Arrive at Dujiangyan Base and begin your tour. You will learn more about the pandas, and help take care of them. The activities may include cleaning panda enclosures, feeding pandas, and making panda cakes.
11:30am–2:00pm: Lunch at the canteen of Dujiangyan Base. 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.
- Entrance to Dujiangyan Base
- Dujiangyan Base Panda Keeper Program fee
- English speaking guide
- Private transfers between your hotel in Chengdu and the panda base
- Simple lunch
- Costs for photos/videos of pandas and holding pandas
- Customer purchases at the base
- Anything else not mentioned on the itinerary
Panda Keeper Program Tour
- Duration: 10 hours (approx.)
- Tour Type: Private Tour
Find more details and options on One-Day Dujiangyan Panda Keeper Program Tour.
- One Day Chengdu Panda and Sichuan Cuisine Tour
- 4-Day Wolong In-Depth Panda Tour
- 12-day Panda Keeper and Classic Wonders
More Giant Panda Volunteer Program Tours
If you are interested in hiking in panda habitat, please see 4-Day Wolong Panda Tour: Hike in the habitat of giant pandas and take care of them.
Or if you are planning a family tour to see highlights of China and also experience the Panda Keeper Program, please see our 12-Day Giant Panda, Yangtze Cruise, and Golden Triangle Family Tour for inspiration.