After our long journey, we finally made it to Sichuan Province! In the early morning, we drove into the mountains and arrived at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong. The weather was a pleasant change from Shanghai due to the drop in temperature and increase in wind. We were welcomed by the adventurous and exotic squat toilets that every student was enthralled to use. Then we suited up in our chunky, blue jumpsuits to meet the pandas.

Our first task was to assist in maintaining the cleanliness of the enclosures—specifically we picked up the bamboo and the “bampoo.” In our downtime, we were able to witness the cuteness of the nine-month-old pandas play king of the hill on their favorite tree.

From there, we watched a documentary about the conservation efforts for pandas and their goal to reintroduce pandas into the wild. After the 2008 earthquake, the area was severely impacted, which allowed the government to relocate farmers, turning the land back into a habitat for wild pandas. The center was rebuilt and new research was conducted on the best way to breed pandas and train them for the wild. Five out of the six pandas released into wild are thriving outside of the center. All of us are hopeful that the research center will continue to see much success in repopulating the wild pandas.