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Panda Ark & Panda Volunteer Program at Dujiangyan

Chengdu, China

Visit the Panda Ark, located at Dujiangyan.

While here, you will have the opportunity to participate in a Panda Volunteer Program. Help prepare the food for pandas and assist with the cleaning of their cages.

Giant pandas are a national treasure in China and loved by people the world over. Found only in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu Provinces, there are now fewer than 1000 pandas, 80% of which live in the hilly, deciduous forests of Sichuan.

 This unique bear has long been revered by the Chinese and can be found in Chinese art dating back thousands of years. The Chinese call their beloved pandas "large bear-cats." People outside of China have been fascinated by giant pandas since they were first described by French Missionary Pere Armand David in 1869. Now, more than 100 years later, the worldwide love for pandas has been combined with international efforts to keep them from becoming extinct.

Giant pandas are only about the size of a stick of butter at birth, and they're hairless and helpless.

The panda mother gives great care to her tiny cub, usually cradling it in one paw and holding it close to her chest. For several days after birth, the mother does not leave the den, not even to eat or drink. Yet despite the attention they receive from their mothers, many young pandas do not survive.

Bamboo is the most important plant in a giant panda's life. Pandas live in cold and rainy bamboo forests high in the mountains of western China.

They spend at least 12 hours each day eating bamboo. Because bamboo is so low in nutrients, pandas eat as much as 84 pounds (38 kilograms) of it each day. Pandas grasp bamboo stalks with their five fingers and a special wrist bone, and then use their teeth to peel off the tough outer layers to reveal the soft inner tissue. Strong jaw bones and cheek muscles help pandas crush and chew the thick stalks with their flattened back teeth. Bamboo leaves are also on the menu, as pandas strip them off the stalks, wad them up, and swallow them. Giant pandas have also been known to eat grasses, bulbs, fruits, some insects, and even rodents and carrion.

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