The Voluntourism Trip That'll Have You Hugging Pandas
If you can't get enough of San Diego Zoo's newly-named, 15-week-old giant panda cub Xiao Liwu, there is a voluntourism program that helps panda lovers like you make a real difference in these animals lives.
Pandas are cute, but they're also endangered as their Chinese habitats shrink and they are hunted by poachers. IFRE Volunteers Abroad, which has worked to make voluntourism more affordable and accessible for everyone, has partnered with the Ya’an Panda Conservation Center near the city of Chengdu in Sichuan Province, China to allow volunteers to assist with their panda conservation efforts.
Panda Conservation Trips last from 1-4 weeks and start at $1051, plus a registration fee. The price includes housing in an on-site villa and three meals a day. Volunteers spend up to 40 hours a week feeding the pandas, cleaning their enclosures, and bathing them. So yes, you'd be close enough to hug a panda, and who doesn't have that on their bucket list?
There are no special skills or qualifications necessary to participate, except for a love of animals and an interest in wildlife conservation.
For more information on IFRE's Panda Conservation Program, visit ifrevolunteers.org.