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Voluntourism Spotlight: Ya’an Panda Conservation Center

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Who doesn’t love pandas? Don’t just ogle them at the zoo or send a check to a charity to help save this endangered species. This week’s Voluntourism Spotlight shows you an accessible and affordable volunteer program in China designed to help protect pandas and their habitats. Check back every Wednesday for more voluntourism opportunities and tune into Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio this weekend for more information.

When most people think of China, one animal springs immediately to mind:  the giant panda. The giant panda is considered a national treasure in China and has been the poster child of the World Wildlife Foundation for more than 50 years. Unfortunately, these animals are endangered and their future is threatened by habitat loss and poaching.

Many organizations are making efforts to save the pandas, but one organization allows ordinary people to make a contribution through voluntourism. Based in Dallas, Texas, IFRE has sought to make voluntourism more affordable and accessible for everyone. They have partnered with the Ya’an Panda Conservation Center near the city of Chengdu in Sichuan Pprovince in an attempt to create an affordable means for volunteers to contribute to panda conservation efforts.

Panda Conservation trips can last from 1-4 weeks and cost from $1051 for one week to $3351 for four weeks, plus an initial $349 registration fee. If you register in September 2012 you can receive $50 off the price of the registration. Trips begin on the first and third Monday of each month.

All volunteers are housed in villas on site and all meals are provided. Expect to work from 30-40 hours a week. Work may include feeding and watering the pandas, cleaning the enclosures where they stay until they can be released back into the wild, and even bathing the animals. During their free time visitors are free to travel to the city of Chengdu and the areas surrounding the Panda Conservation Center.

For more information about IFRE’s Panda Conservation program and their other voluntourism efforts visit their website.

By Braden Holly for