So this has been a dream come true for me, to see pandas in China, without them being in a zoo. I don't why it has taken so long? In January, I finally got to spend a whole day working with other volunteers, cleaning and feeding some pandas that were, ironically, given by the Austrian government. Actually most of the pandas were captive born, with just a few getting ready for the re-wilding project.
There's a lot to do and learn about panda conservation. Travelling to the sanctuary by private car on a really polluted morning was a bit depressing. In contrast, the sanctuary was completely impressive and well supported by foreign donations. I loved the programme and it seemed to work well for the community too.
In the morning, I cleaned and fed bamboo and cakes. Then I paid extra to sit next to a cub, which I can't share on social media as I signed a disclosure document. After a somewhat spicy lunch, I toured the other pandas at leisure and then watched a really good documentary about the earthquake and the research approaches to sustain wild pandas. It was really sad to see how badly the earthquake damaged the scientist's endeavours.
Yes, my contribution was expensive. I paid $840 for a day, yes, a day! That's a lot of money. Well conservation is always going to be about money, and on this occasion, I used my savings to learn more about pandas and that was worthwhile. I booked with Viator.