The students had a productive week and enjoyed their work at the Panda Conservation Center. They found their work both rewarding and productive. Before reading ahead to a general reflection on work experience submitted by one person from each workgroup, please take this opportunity to view a slideshow that Mr. Drossel and Mrs. Hanrahan put together of their photos, titled “Ross Pandamonium“.
Working with Pandas at the Overseas Panda Area
On Tuesday morning, we arrived in our attractive khaki jumpsuits at the Panda Conservation Center. We had already decided on our groups the day before, so we would soon be assigned jobs. Ava, Walker, and Madison were in my group. Other groups were choosing stations that were conveniently close to the meeting place, but when my group heard about the overseas pandas, we immediately knew that we wanted to work there. Luckily for us, the overseas pandas were conveniently far away from the meeting place. A man brought us over to our station, which seemed to be over a mile away. The language barrier kept us from talking to him, so we walked there in silence. We arrived at our station, which was home to many special pandas, one including Tai Shen, the famous YouTube sneezing panda.
When we arrived there, a lovely woman who was able to speak English greeted us. I was so relieved that my panda master spoke English. To my surprise, she wasn’t my panda master; my real panda master spoke less English than the man who walked us over. Madison and I split off from Walker and Ava, and we went off to clean panda poop. We arrived in a large pen surrounded by a ditch with a wall surrounding it. The weather was wet, and it was easy to slip on the muddy terrain. The pandas were already in their cages, so we began our work. We used home made brooms made out of twigs to sweep up the panda poop and the old bamboo. This whole process took about 20-30 minutes.
Each day we were at the panda conservation center, we became more productive with our work. After we cleaned the outside, we went inside to let the pandas out. I was stunned when we went inside because I had never been so close to a panda before. First we swept the bamboo and excrement, and then we power washed the whole cage. This was done at the same time everyday. At 10:00 am, we had an hour break. We fed the pandas at 11:00 am. To feed the pandas we had to cut and weigh pieces of panda cakes for individual pandas. Depending on which day it was, we would also include either carrots or bamboo shoots. Our panda masters let us hand feed certain pandas, which was an amazing experience. The pandas were so gentle when they took the food out of our hands.
After feeding the pandas, we had to take the long hike to the restaurant to have lunch. Everyone would eat here at the same time, and it was a great way to find out what the other groups were doing. Lunch was over at 2:00 pm, and it was time to feed the pandas again. We repeated the same process and then had a two-hour break. My group would usually crowd around the small heater in one of the offices to warm up, since it was so cold and wet outside. The two hours would pass quickly, and then it was time to leave. As cold and wet as the panda conservation center was, I came away from the experience everyday thinking about everything I accomplished and what an enlightening experience it was. I have learned so much from my panda master, and pandas are my new favorite animals.
~ Brenna L.
Working with Pandas at the Research Center
My group at the panda center consisted of Ariel, Harrison, Thomas, and myself. We were based at the science and research center. We had adult pandas that each had an individual area and also babies that were all together. Each day, we would get to the panda center, eat a quick breakfast, and then run to feed the pandas their breakfast. We fed them carrots and panda cake. Panda cake is a baked circular loaf of bread that contains lots of nutrients to keep the pandas healthy. After feeding them, we’d lock them inside so we could clean out their outdoor enclosure. We had to pick up the big excess chunks of bamboo and sweep the little pieces and the mud up in order to give the pen a general cleaning. After that, we put the smaller, leafy pieces of bamboo in the pen and take the bare, big logs outside, break them apart, and then put them in the pen. Then, the panda would be released outside and locked there so that we could sweep the inside of the pen. After doing all this, the door would be opened and the panda would have freedom between indoors and outdoors. We did this for five different pandas. After that, we had a break before we fed them again, more carrots and panda cake. Then another break, then we fed more carrots and panda cake. Then, at around 4:00 in the afternoon, we came back to give them their dinner and more bamboo. Their dinner was usually apples with vitamin pills inside and more panda cake. This was our daily experience. In the breaks we had, we did various different things. Sometimes we went shopping for panda souvenirs for our friends and family back home, sometimes we went to the rooftop of the breeding center to watch pandas that the center was looking to breed together interact, and sometimes we went around the center looking for shots for the movie presentation for our trip. Being around pandas was definitely a highlight of the trip and my life in general. We are so lucky.
~ Renee H.