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How to Volunteer with Giant Pandas in Chengdu

Volunteer with giant panda

Giant pandas are fascinating creatures so it's no wonder that you want to spend your time volunteering to help preserve this endangered species.

There's a lot to consider when choosing to volunteer with pandas, including where the best place is to do this, what kind of volunteer opportunities are available, and whether you meet the requirements or not.

In this article, we’ve provided some insider tips in order to help you prepare for volunteering with giant pandas.

Where Can You Volunteer to Work with Pandas?

Dujiangyan Panda Base is a great place to volunteer with giant pandas

There are three panda bases offering volunteer programs: Dujiangyan Panda Base, Wolong Panda Center, and Bifengxia Panda Base.

For day-long volunteer experiences, we recommend you go to Dujiangyan Panda Base as it is easily accessible.

For a longer program, Wolong Panda Center is the best place to go. Bifengxia can be an option if you want to have a less busy program and don’t mind having a longer drive.

For a variety of experiences, we highly recommend Wolong, the real hometown of wild pandas. There, you can choose to experience activities including volunteer programs with giant pandas, red pandas, and panda babies, a nighttime visit to the panda base, and a hike in the habitat of wild pandas.

See details about the differences between the panda bases.

What Volunteer Activities Are Included?

giant panda keeper program activites

Giant Pandas Keeper Program

The work involved when volunteering with giant pandas is similar in each program. In a one-day program, you can expect to be doing tasks like:

  • Cleaning and carrying fresh bamboo
  • Making cakes for pandas
  • Feeding the pandas (usually through the cage bars, for safety reasons)
  • Cleaning the pandas’ enclosures
  • Collecting and weighing the pandas’ feces
  • Taking a tour around the panda base
  • Learning about giant pandas and how to conduct panda behavior research
  • Watching documentary movies about giant pandas

Here is a typical one-day panda volunteer program in Dujiangyan.

panda volunteer program

Wolong Baby Panda Keeper Program (Only Offered by Us)

Wolong Baby Panda Keeper Program, which is a newly opened program currently only offered by China Highlights, offers some special experiences. 

You will experience the world's best job to hold a baby panda and feed it with milk and bamboo shoots as well as observe the pandas' acts from the staff-only control room.

Wolong Red Panda Keeper Program

Wolong Red Panda Keeper Program allows you to feed a group of cat-sized red pandas without a fence in between you and you can touch them and take photos. 

It is a good chance for you to learn about the interesting differences between the red panda and its giant panda cousin.

Wolong Red Panda Keeper Program Volunteers are feeding red pandas in Wolong.

What Requirements Are There for Volunteering?

Age Limits

The age restriction of the giant panda and baby panda volunteers is between 10 and 70 years old. The age limit for the red panda program is 8-70 years old. 

The cost for children of 10 years old and above is the same as the cost for adults. If your children are aged up to 9 years old, you can still take them with you during the program.

Your children cannot enter the room where the panda cage but your guide can help take care of them while you are volunteering.

panda volunteer programChildren making cakes for pandas

Physical Examination Record

A Physical Examination Record is required for a panda keeper program application. Please click the link below to download the form. Feel free to contact our travel expert for one-to-one advice if you have any questions.

Download the PDF

How to Apply for a Panda Volunteer Program

The most convenient way to apply for a volunteer program is through a travel agent who can offer a package including the program itself, a transfer from Chengdu to the panda base, and a translator/guide for some sections of the day.

As the first tour operator to arrange a Panda Keeper Program, China Highlights proudly provides various choices of panda tours to meet your requirements.

From spending a private evening with pandas to being a giant panda keeper and from being a baby panda nanny to tracking wild pandas in a remote nature reserve, your wish is our command.

Just let us know your preferences and requirements, and we'll tailor-make a tour for you.

Panda Volunteer Program Tips

panda volunteer program

1. Book Early

The programs may become fully booked as there is a limited number of places for these volunteer programs each day. For example, the daily quota atDujiangyan Panda Base is 60 volunteers. We recommend booking at least one week in advance.

2. Follow the Instructions

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

  • Please do not make any noise 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 pandas’ 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. 

3. Dress Code

To protect yourself when carrying bamboo, please do not wear shorts 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 toward the pandas.

More Giant Panda Volunteer Program Tours

You could customize our other tours to include a panda keeper experience, or use our expertise to tailor-make your own panda program trip. Or see our tours below for inspiration:

2-Day Wolong Panda Cub Keeper Program Tour 2-day Interact closely with panda cubs as you bottle-feed them, supply them with bamboo, and clean their enclosure with your own hands View more
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