I had actually read about this place online and then saw Samantha Brown’s Travel Channel show on it, which is where we found out about the intern program.  My wife and I joined the intern program for a day and had an absolute BLAST. Yes you have to clean the cages, but you get basically an all access pass to where the animals stay and get a much closer and intimate view of the animals. After cleaning the cages (takes maybe 20 minutes) you get to help prepare their food and you get to actually feed the pandas! It was so much fun. You’ll get a break from your "duties" in the middle of the day to go walk around the park and see everything there is to see. After that, it is back to feeding and checking on the pandas. I’m honestly not sure how much it cost because it was built in to our overall trip cost… but whatever it was, it was worth it.  

If you want to actually pet a panda inside the cage (as Holly is doing above), let your guide know you want to do that.  They do it at certain times of the day and they only allow so many people to do it.  The younger ones they will actually sit in your lap, but they weren’t feeling well they day we were there, so we got to pet some of the older ones.  It is very fast and is basically just a couple of minutes per person so they can take your picture doing it (you hand YOUR camera to a park person to take the pictures).  I was literally speechless the whole time.

If you’re interested in doing this, be sure to ask your travel agent how to schedule it.  The travel company we used for this particular trip was Access China Tours (whom I would also recommend highly).

–Dan Thompson

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