As part of an awareness campaign on the plight of the panda, of which there are just 1,600 left in the wild, Chengdu Panda Base in South West China, has launched a global competition to invite animal lovers around the world to help look after these endangered animals for one month.
Earning around $150 a month, 24 year old Yang Gangkun, a graduate in veterinary studies, is a panda keeper, looking after 8 pandas alongside 14 other keepers at the breeding centre. His day starts at 6:30 and begins with feeding, cleaning and exercising the pandas. Yang says that spends two nights a week sleeping near the pandas, to safeguard them and that the panda’s are very responsive to humans.
The Panda base in Chengdu openned with 6 pandas in 1987, a figure which has now risen to 84 in total. Keepers are particularly busy during the spring mating season and summer birthing season, a time when the committed panda keepers work flat out. Another major challenge for the centre is preparing pandas to be released into the wild. In the past, some released pandas have been found dead, thought to have been attacked by their wild cousins. Keepers and researchers at the reserve aim to address this problem.
Organisers say that, from August, they will be looking for "bright, articulate and engaging individuals from China and around the world, who care deeply about conservation issues". The prize will involve assisting researchers and helping to raise awareness through blogging.
Full details of the competition and how to enter are yet to be released.
Photo taken from www.students.ou.edu