Monday, July 27, 2015

Pampas

Name: Rachel Williams
Class Year: 2017
Hometown: Rochester Hills, MI
Internship: Animal Care Intern (Mammal Department), the Detroit Zoo
Location: Detroit, MI

Honestly, I had no idea what the word "Pampas" meant until I saw it on my rotation schedule and googled it. Turns out the pampas are an area of plains in South America, and at the zoo, this term refers to the exhibit containing guanacos, rheas, southern screamers, fallow deer (not South American but they don't have their own exhibit), and peccaries. Along with these animals, the pampas routine as a whole also includes the bison yard and brand new wolf habitat. 
I was really excited to start this rotation because of the opportunity to work with the wolves. They've always been one of my favorite animals, and now are the zoo's latest addition. Their habitat is two acres and just opened to the public in early June. The residents are two gray wolves; Wazi, a 7 year-old female, and Kaska, a 5 year-old male. The pair came from the Minnesota zoo and are a breeding pair, but have yet to successfully have pups. Its not hard at all to tell the two apart, both by looks and by behavior. Wazi is all white and very interested in interacting with humans, while Kaska is definitely more timid and likes to watch from a distance. We worked with him a lot on coming into the small holding yard in the back of the exhibit, and by the end of my four weeks there, we saw a huge improvement. We were able to get him to willingly come into the yard and building to explore with us standing there, whereas in the beginning he refused to even come close to the building if he heard or saw us. Wazi, on the other hand, would come running and whimpering as soon as she heard the keepers! Every morning, we would apply Swat to her ears to keep the flies away, and to keep her happy while doing this, I would scratch her through the fence with a stick. She loved it and would whimper and cry, and then out of nowhere go silent for a few seconds, and suddenly attack the stick. After a couple seconds of aggression, she would let go of the stick and resume begging for attention. She's adorable, but very bipolar!



This routine also made me realize a new species to add to my list of favorite animals; the peccary. I had no idea what they were until I started working in the pampas building, but the zoo has two Collared Peccaries, and they are the cutest little pigs! They don't go out on exhibit anymore, due to them being bullies towards the guanacos, but they have a couple stalls in the building and access to three small fenced yards. Since they aren't allowed out in the big yard, they receive four different enrichment items everyday, a task I was put in charge of and which was really fun! I loved giving them toys smeared with peanut butter; they would rub it all over their faces and get it stuck in their hair. Since they aren't out on exhibit, I can't post any pictures of them, but here is one from the internet:

Another awesome experience that I really enjoyed was meeting the ring-tailed and black-and-white ruffed lemurs. These cute little guys weren't part of our routine, but the keeper I was working with wanted to make sure I got to experience all parts of the zoo, and this was definitely a fun break from cleaning stalls and yards! Lemurs are one of the few animals that keepers can go in with, so I got to go in the public yard and feed them. They were extremely curious (or maybe just hungry) and climbed all over me, licked my hands, and tried to grab my phone! It was a blast :)






My Unbelizable Adventure Part 2: The intern and the eagle

Name: Hannah Tucky
Class: 2017, Junior
Hometown: Delaware, Ohio
Internship: Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center
Location: Mile 29 Western Hwy, Belize

Jaguarundi cub (Manny)
      Hello everyone who took the time to read this post! I'm finally updating you guys about the second and third week of my internship at the Belize Zoo in the beautiful country of Belize. For those of you who have not yet read my first post, my first week's adventures included beginning working with mammals like tapirs, howler monkeys, as well as some pretty unique birds including scarlet macaws. During my first week, the zoo also gained a new addition in the form of a jaguarundi cub who was later named (with my help!) Manny. I soon became one of the main "foster mothers" for little Manny. This included taking weights, preparing and weighing food every two hours, and getting him accustomed to interacting with people. 

Harpy Eagle underside of foot
During my time at the zoo these weeks my skills that I learned from the Ohio Wildlife Center ended up helping me enormously and let me have some pretty awesome interactions! For example, at the Belize zoo, there are two harpy eagles. Harpy eagles are one of the largest eagles in the world and have been reported carrying off up to 30 lbs of prey such as small goats and monkeys. Their talons alone are between 3 and 4 inches long and the females can be about the same height as a small child. One of the harpy eagles at the zoo, DaQueen was believed to have developed feet issues, possibly bumble foot. Because I had mentioned my hands on work with raptors at the OWC, Gliselle, the animal management staff supervisor, only animal contact area female, and Purdue wildlife ecology graduate, had asked if I would help in the procedures. For these, DaQueen (the harpy eagle) was first caught. Next, we flushed out the cracks in her feet using saline solution in a 60 ml syringe and applied a medical gel to them, followed by wrapping them back up with gauze and tape. The whole procedure only took about 10 minutes and the eagle stayed incredibly calm throughout the whole time she was caught and cared for. 

 If that wasn't a great enough experience to help with every few days, I got an even cooler one to add! One of the days while Gliselle was off, the keepers noticed the bandages falling off and asked if I would supervise and do the bandages myself! Although I felt a little unsure that I have any real help to give, I knew I had watched it been done many times. Catching the eagle, cleaning out the cracks, and applying the bandages and gauze ended up going extremely well. By the end of the third week there, the eagle's feet issues were found by a visiting vet not to be bumble foot yet, but just from the current perching in the yard. The lesions were already beginning to heal and DaQueen required less intervention by zoo staff.
Wrapping foot with gauze and tape
Applying ointment on the eagle's foot

As a result, of more OWC experience (Our last project for the semester was building perches for the raptors), I helped supervise the addition to new perching in the eagle enclosure. Because perching in some of the other bird enclosures was also seen as a possibility for concern, I also helped in adding new perches to the scarlet macaws, ornate hawk eagles, and toucans. 

By the end of this third week in Belize I had been in the country for a full 5 weeks and only had one week to go. I am still incredibly glad that I had all the opportunities that I had so far. I am also very excited that I was able to directly apply what I have learned in class to situations 1600 miles away in a zoo and country so different than our own.  

Sunday, July 26, 2015

"And at last I see the light"

Name: Kelly Jackson
Class/Year: Class of 2017, Junior
Hometown: Waterford, Wisconsin
Location: Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China
Internship: Animal Behavior Research

            Our data collection has been very interesting this past week! The keepers put two of the cubs in with the mom, both inside and outside. In the wild, the mother may give birth to two cubs, but will give her care and attention to only one. This is one of the many reasons the giant panda is an endangered animal.  Therefore, I was very intrigued to see how the mother interacted with the two cubs. From what I noticed, she did not sway her attention specifically to one of the two cubs. In fact she would jump up and bite one of pandas, and then the next second come barreling across the enclosure and knock over the other panda! When we look at the data, maybe we will be able to detect a difference.
            Speaking of data, Macie and I have been busy compiling our final sheets. We have been making separate sheets for each panda, but in order to analyze it, we need to put all panda data, both Macie’s and mine into one document. James has told us we will be using SPSS to look at our data. He told us it is what most researchers and scientific papers use when they analyze their data. Essentially, it is like Microsoft Excel, and it with various programs you can look at different aspects. I’ve downloaded a couple sample books (the actual ones are almost $100!) to get a sense of how to use it, and it doesn’t appear too hard to master!
            In addition to SPSS, James’ friend, Jake, also introduced Macie and I to another statistics program, called R. He told us if you can learn R, you will definitely be a high candidate for graduate school. With R, you can design and apply your own programs. If you wanted to look at hormonal levels in correlation with temperature and altitude, you enter in a specific code, and the program will do the rest. However, it is very difficult to use, because you personally have to figure out your own codes and enter them in, and if you don’t know how to code, you’re out of luck. Out of curiosity, I downloaded R to my computer (yes, it is free from the internet) and it is just a blank screen with a box where you input your codes. Basically, I was completely lost on what to do after I downloaded it. James told us R is one, if not the, hardest statistical model to use, and with our project, we will not be using it. Phew! However, I am interested in figuring out R. Like my softball coach always says, “Love the challenge!” ;)
            On Tuesday, Macie and I got to watch a talk by the one and only David Kersey, from Western University. He talked about renal endocrinology and how it relates to the giant panda.  He spoke in English, while another veterinarian and James’ friend, Luo Li, translated for him. His talk had two parts, first about the renin-angiotensin system. During this he told us about how the kidney works dealing with renin and angiotensinogen. Essentially what happens is there are renin and angiotensinogen work together within the kidney, create different hormones, and keep sodium, water reabsorption, as well as blood pressure in check. When the animals has a constant supply of water, it can achieve this balance, and its’ kidneys should function properly. However, it the animal is stressed or does not have proper nutrition, it can lead to kidney problems. A high amount of stress causes low blood pressure, which makes it harder for the panda to function since their glucocorticoids (in this case, cortisol) would not be expressed. Also, if the animal does not reabsorb water, it will lead to an increase in sodium. High amounts of sodium in the blood lead to dehydration, which we all know is not good for any creature. The second part dealt with calcium homeostasis. It is vital for the panda to have calcium homeostasis, because otherwise it can lead to kidney problems. When the blood calcium in the panda is low, hormones will be released, which will convert Vitamin D from its’ inactive form to active. Calcium absorption will then occur, which will lead to an increase in blood calcium, and therefore homeostasis will occur again. However, if not enough Vitamin D is received, it will unable to be converted from inactive to active. In general pandas are prone to having kidney problems, due to their interesting diets. One of the panda workers was talking to David Kersey about how they are in the process of finding various nutrition options for the pandas, but it has been difficult due to the panda’s biology, so his talk to them was helpful in taking the next step. The talk went on for about an hour or so, and was very specific and highly informational. A lot of contextual vocabulary was used, but the graphics were great to have as a guide! I thoroughly enjoyed the talk, and ended up looking up more information about all the various parts of endocrinology later on. Needless to say, I think I’ll stick with the behavioral aspect. :P
            Later that night we went out with everyone to dinner for James’ birthday! It was a restaurant called the Lazy Pug. The food was great, and so was the tiramisu (yum)! Macie and I made James a nice card with cool pictures of cows that we drew, since that was one of the few things we knew how to draw. We also got him a book, and quite possibly the weirdest gift I have ever given anyone. We all talked and ate; it was a nice night out! :)
            The rest of the week went by super quickly, watching the cubs, collecting red panda poop, and entering in data. Before we knew it, it was Friday. Macie and I decided to go back to Jinli Street to get our Chinese teacher, Eldora, a present before our last lesson. We had a man engrave the symbol of “friendship” into a little bead. The bead went on a red string, which Eldora can now hang in her room as a reminder of us. :) After we got Eldora her present, Macie and I ate at the Tibetan restaurant just outside of Jinli. It was the best meal Macie and I have ordered by ourselves thus far. We had a yak meat and noodle soup, buttered crumpets, and delicious tea! 
            The next day at our Chinese lesson we learned a lot of new animals! From gorilla to dolphin to kangaroo, we covered just about every animal at the Columbus zoo. In addition, Eldora told us about the holidays and traditions they have here in China. Instead of celebrating one Valentine’s Day, they actually celebrate it twice, once in February and again in July. They also have the Spring and Autumn Festival, where decorations are hung everywhere, families gather, and celebrate with fireworks and fun! Also, we told Eldora about some of the holidays we celebrate in America. As we talked about our traditions and drank some delicious Chinese tea Eldora gave us, time flew by, and before we knew it our lesson was over. We treated Eldora to lunch and gave her our gift of the decoration, some chocolates, colored animal drawings, and a panda ring! She really enjoyed her gift. Eventually we said goodbye, and we wished Eldora safe travels as she headed out for her own adventure around China with her boyfriend. I am really going to miss Eldora. She is an amazing teacher, and a great friend. Thankfully we have each other on WeChat, and I will definitely be staying in touch with her! I hope I can return to China again soon, and I can visit her in her hometown. :)

Name: Kelly Jackson
Class/Year: Class of 2017, Junior
Hometown: Waterford, Wisconsin
Location: Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China
Internship: Animal Behavior Research
            Our data collection has been very interesting this past week! The keepers put two of the cubs in with the mom, both inside and outside. In the wild, the mother may give birth to two cubs, but will give her care and attention to only one. This is one of the many reasons the giant panda is an endangered animal.  Therefore, I was very intrigued to see how the mother interacted with the two cubs. From what I noticed, she did not sway her attention specifically to one of the two cubs. In fact she would jump up and bite one of pandas, and then the next second come barreling across the enclosure and knock over the other panda! When we look at the data, maybe we will be able to detect a difference.
            Speaking of data, Macie and I have been busy compiling our final sheets. We have been making separate sheets for each panda, but in order to analyze it, we need to put all panda data, both Macie’s and mine into one document. James has told us we will be using SPSS to look at our data. He told us it is what most researchers and scientific papers use when they analyze their data. Essentially, it is like Microsoft Excel, and it with various programs you can look at different aspects. I’ve downloaded a couple sample books (the actual ones are almost $100!) to get a sense of how to use it, and it doesn’t appear too hard to master!
            In addition to SPSS, James’ friend, Jake, also introduced Macie and I to another statistics program, called R. He told us if you can learn R, you will definitely be a high candidate for graduate school. With R, you can design and apply your own programs. If you wanted to look at hormonal levels in correlation with temperature and altitude, you enter in a specific code, and the program will do the rest. However, it is very difficult to use, because you personally have to figure out your own codes and enter them in, and if you don’t know how to code, you’re out of luck. Out of curiosity, I downloaded R to my computer (yes, it is free from the internet) and it is just a blank screen with a box where you input your codes. Basically, I was completely lost on what to do after I downloaded it. James told us R is one, if not the, hardest statistical model to use, and with our project, we will not be using it. Phew! However, I am interested in figuring out R. Like my softball coach always says, “Love the challenge!” ;)
            On Tuesday, Macie and I got to watch a talk by the one and only David Kersey, from Western University. He talked about renal endocrinology and how it relates to the giant panda.  He spoke in English, while another veterinarian and James’ friend, Luo Li, translated for him. His talk had two parts, first about the renin-angiotensin system. During this he told us about how the kidney works dealing with renin and angiotensinogen. Essentially what happens is there are renin and angiotensinogen work together within the kidney, create different hormones, and keep sodium, water reabsorption, as well as blood pressure in check. When the animals has a constant supply of water, it can achieve this balance, and its’ kidneys should function properly. However, it the animal is stressed or does not have proper nutrition, it can lead to kidney problems. A high amount of stress causes low blood pressure, which makes it harder for the panda to function since their glucocorticoids (in this case, cortisol) would not be expressed. Also, if the animal does not reabsorb water, it will lead to an increase in sodium. High amounts of sodium in the blood lead to dehydration, which we all know is not good for any creature. The second part dealt with calcium homeostasis. It is vital for the panda to have calcium homeostasis, because otherwise it can lead to kidney problems. When the blood calcium in the panda is low, hormones will be released, which will convert Vitamin D from its’ inactive form to active. Calcium absorption will then occur, which will lead to an increase in blood calcium, and therefore homeostasis will occur again. However, if not enough Vitamin D is received, it will unable to be converted from inactive to active. In general pandas are prone to having kidney problems, due to their interesting diets. One of the panda workers was talking to David Kersey about how they are in the process of finding various nutrition options for the pandas, but it has been difficult due to the panda’s biology, so his talk to them was helpful in taking the next step. The talk went on for about an hour or so, and was very specific and highly informational. A lot of contextual vocabulary was used, but the graphics were great to have as a guide! I thoroughly enjoyed the talk, and ended up looking up more information about all the various parts of endocrinology later on. Needless to say, I think I’ll stick with the behavioral aspect. :P
            Later that night we went out with everyone to dinner for James’ birthday! It was a restaurant called the Lazy Pug. The food was great, and so was the tiramisu (yum)! Macie and I made James a nice card with cool pictures of cows that we drew, since that was one of the few things we knew how to draw. We also got him a book, and quite possibly the weirdest gift I have ever given anyone. We all talked and ate; it was a nice night out! :)
            The rest of the week went by super quickly, watching the cubs, collecting red panda poop, and entering in data. Before we knew it, it was Friday. Macie and I decided to go back to Jinli Street to get our Chinese teacher, Eldora, a present before our last lesson. We had a man engrave the symbol of “friendship” into a little bead. The bead went on a red string, which Eldora can now hang in her room as a reminder of us. :) After we got Eldora her present, Macie and I ate at the Tibetan restaurant just outside of Jinli. It was the best meal Macie and I have ordered by ourselves thus far. We had a yak meat and noodle soup, buttered crumpets, and delicious tea! 
            The next day at our Chinese lesson we learned a lot of new animals! From gorilla to dolphin to kangaroo, we covered just about every animal at the Columbus zoo. In addition, Eldora told us about the holidays and traditions they have here in China. Instead of celebrating one Valentine’s Day, they actually celebrate it twice, once in February and again in July. They also have the Spring and Autumn Festival, where decorations are hung everywhere, families gather, and celebrate with fireworks and fun! Also, we told Eldora about some of the holidays we celebrate in America. As we talked about our traditions and drank some delicious Chinese tea Eldora gave us, time flew by, and before we knew it our lesson was over. We treated Eldora to lunch and gave her our gift of the decoration, some chocolates, colored animal drawings, and a panda ring! She really enjoyed her gift. Eventually we said goodbye, and we wished Eldora safe travels as she headed out for her own adventure around China with her boyfriend. I am really going to miss Eldora. She is an amazing teacher, and a great friend. Thankfully we have each other on WeChat, and I will definitely be staying in touch with her! I hope I can return to China again soon, and I can visit her in her hometown. :)
      The past few days have truly been an eye opening experience for me, however there is one I will never forget. Walking around Jinli Street at night was one of the most indescribable things I have ever experience. There were so many lights and lanterns, along with soothing music playing in the background. It was exactly what I imagined China to be like, and yet it was so much more. If you have ever seen Tangled, I felt like Rapunzel in the movie when she sees the floating lanterns for the first time, not from her room. It was then I realized how little time Macie and I have left here in Chengdu. We have only two more weeks here at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. :( I am truly going to miss watching all of the little cubs, as well as the people we have gotten to work with. We have done so much here, yet I feel as though we have a lot left to explore! :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Summer In Chicago



Name: Mollie Kemp
Class/Year: Class of 2016, Senior
Hometown: Clear Spring, Maryland
Location: Chicago Zoological Society, Brookfield Zoo, Chicago, Illinois
Internship: Animal Welfare Research Extern


Hey everybody! I'm back with another adventure, if you happened to read my blog last year. Anyway, welcome readers old and new :)

So this summer, I have been given the great opportunity to be an extern at the Brookfield Zoo/ Chicago Zoological Society. I was particularly thrilled about this because Brookfield is one of the premier zoos involved in the research field. I feel strongly that research should be a priority of zoos, so I was excited to have the opportunity to be working in zoo research. The Welfare department at Brookfield strives to use scientific approaches and research to find innovative ways to advance the welfare of the zoos animals, a noble goal indeed!

First off, moving to Chicago was an adventure! It's quite the bustling city, and during my time here I've got to do some really cool things: be in a city with a Stanley cup win, go to a Cubs game, go to the awesome museums here, go to the Lincoln Park Zoo, etc! I've really enjoyed getting to know another state and another place. Gotta love adventures! Also, I could be thankful enough for having a great place to stay while I'm here- shout out to the Rohls!

Okay, okay, so I guess I should talk about what you guys want to hear. Animals! The first day of our internship, Amanda Stilwell (recent Otterbein zoo major grad who is also interning with me) and I explored Brookfield. I immediately fell in love with the primate house in which it ACTUALLY RAINS everyday. Secondly, it's massive, so large that I looked around a 1/3 of it and just couldn't even imagine the amount of people it must take to clean the area. Regardless, it's very cool- and includes many species of primates, birds, and other creatures but highlights: a baby gibbon (aka me dying of cuteness overload- if you know me, you know how I much I absolutely love gibbons!), turacos (one of my favorite bird species) a baby orangutan, and an adorable baby Nora, who is a gorilla- and a very genetically important one at that. I often will stroll through this building on my way to my car after work. :)  It's been really fun getting to explore a new zoo- though admittedly, I could still get lost in Brookfield if I tried hard enough- it's laid out like a classic garden and thus very different than I am used to! 

So specifics on what I actually do everyday! Amanda and I were lucky enough to receive possibly the most adorable of all animals to study...the red panda!!! The red pandas at Brookfield are new to the collection, and were part of a new section called Wild Encounters that did not open until July 1st- so Amanda and I got to explore this area before it was open to the public. The red pandas are brother and sister, Wally and Beatrix, and they ADORABLE. I can't ever decide which one is cuter. Wally is much more regal in his appearance, but very handsome. Bee looks like she's a character out of a cartoon, and she's got a tuft of hair on her nose that makes it very easy to tell them apart. They are both just over a year old, and came from another AZA facility in Virginia. Their exhibit includes a massive computerized tree which helps to encourage natural foraging behaviors. See an awesome video about it here: Red Panda Tree!

The animal welfare department is interested in studying this project because despite the popularity of red pandas in zoos- very little is known about their behavior. We are looking to discover more about their behavior and what they typically spend their time doing, and what parts of their exhibit they utilize most often. To do this, Amanda and I use focal sampling with continuous recordings of event behaviors, and instantaneous recordings every minute of location and state. Amanda and I created our ethogram ourselves- and I think we both are proud of it! In the beginning of our internship, while we were testing reliability, (to insure we both score behaviors similarly and thus improves the strength of our research) Amanda and I watched practically every red panda video on youtube to do so. Many hours of adorable panda videos- it's a tough job but I guess someone has to do it... ;)  We spend Monday through Friday from 9-3 at the red panda exhibit, doing our behavior observations, switching off every hour and a half. On our off time, we work on the draft of the paper which will eventually include our data. So far, many of our days are filled with watching one of the cutest creatures ever- who can complain? 

Oh also, Amanda and I are officially legit (scroll down to interns): Research Team

Enjoy some photos from my adventures! 
My first pro sports game! What a cool stadium to experience- they won!



Beatrix eats (adorably, of course.)

Me and the baby Grevy's zebra. She was two days old here. We share a birthday. :)


I have decided the most majestic bird is officially the Harpy Eagle. It was insane. Brookfield has an awesome free bird show that has so many cool birds- and a lot of great conservation messages.

Also part of the bird show. I was lucky enough for Davidson the raven to come land on me twice and take some money back and forth, He was really cool, go corvids!


The river is quite beautiful as it runs through the city!

Buckingham Fountain!

The skyline! 

Lincoln Park Zoo- it was a smaller zoo, but I really enjoyed it- I was particularly impressed with their macaque exhibit, it's really pretty complex and interesting, and includes their own "hot spring" for the winter time.

Brookfield has some free range birds- guineas and peacocks- just look how adorable!



Pandas who nap together stay together.

Look at that face! Adorable!


Wally eats bamboo- he enjoys a challenge of trying to eat the stuff outside his exhibit- despite his multiple inside bamboo sources!

Using their tree!

Free ranging peacock! Took some getting used to their noises though.


View from under the umbrella: rain or shine, research goes on!


Thanks for reading!
Until next time,
Mollie


We love our Chinese friends :)

Name: Kelly Jackson
Class/Year: Class of 2017, Junior
Hometown: Waterford, Wisconsin
Location: Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China
Internship: Animal Behavior Research

This past Thursday was a fun day for us here at the panda base! First off, we got to collect our fecal samples that morning. After we gathered up all the poop, we went to the lab to actually see what happens to the red panda poop. There are two students at the panda base who are in charge of the rough extraction of the fecal samples. Their job includes a lot of labeling! They first record where our samples came from and from which panda, if there is glitter in their poop. Afterward, they label each bag with a secure name tag. Once all the bags are labeled, they place the samples in the freezer for a week. When they come out of the freezer, they will then go into a spinner, or a centrifuge, for another couple of days. The students will then take the samples and “destroy” them. They labeled more test tubes and placed each “destroyed” poop into the tubes. Not only were we able to observe them doing so, but we actually got to assist them with it! The students made us wear gowns, gloves, masks, and even hairnets! It was fun to play dress up for a bit. :P
In the afternoon, we finished the final touches on our enrichment. We rinsed off the pipes while James cut up a few apples. We placed the apple slices into the holes on the sides of the PVC pipes and wa-la! Our enrichment was complete! Macie and I ran to the front of the enclosure, where we recorded a video and an observation of the pandas when James put in the enrichment. There were so many people surrounding us, I was definitely sweating up a storm! The cubs seemed to like the enrichment though! They played with it for a bit and even the following day when we were observing them! Overall, I’d say it was pretty successful. :)
On Saturday, we went to Fe-Fe’s hometown to “go play outside.” Her hometown is called Luodai, and it just outside of the city of Chengdu. She told us it used to be a refuge for the Hakkanese people, a long time ago. Her grandfather traveled from the south part of China, near the sea, to Luodai and her family has been there ever since. We went to a shopping center where we got to play more dress up! Macie and I got to choosetraditional Chinese dresses and take pictures in them! I picked a blue dress because it looked the most like Elsa from Frozen (I guess I look like her). The photographer handed us a bunch of props to model with, my favorite being a guitar with no strings that I had to pretend to play. :P
After we ate a delicious lunch, we went to what Fe-Fe called “the mini Great Wall.” We climbed up a massive hill, which was treacherous due to it being ninety five degrees out (phew). At the top, there was a Buddhist Temple with of course a marvelous view. It was so quaint, compared to the busy city life we have grown accustomed too. Outside of the temple, there was a wall, where if you spun around three times and found the wall with your eyes closed, you were blessed for life. Thankfully, Macie and I both successfully found it, although it was a bit of a struggle. (;
The little wall was super cool! The view was again so beautiful. There were a bunch of people trying to sell us gifts throughout our walk along the wall. We took tons of pictures, including jumping ones! We even got Fe-Fe to take a super cute jumping picture of herself. :) We made it about a quarter or so of the way through the trek of the wall, before we heard thunder. It was time to head back! By the time we arrived at the car, it had started to sprinkle. Macie and I were very grateful that Fe-Fe invited us to her hometown. It was cool to see the difference between the city and the farm lands of China. We really appreciated it and had a blast! 
On Sunday, we went to our Chinese lesson. We learned different parts of the body, and now we are able to sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” in Chinese! Eldora, our teacher, then treated us to a day of fun-filled adventures with her friends! We first went to a Buddha Temple where we ate delicious and traditional Chinese food. Eldora ordered us “sad jelly noodles” which is a type of rice noodle. It is referred to as sad because it makes people cry from the spice! We also had other delicious treats like “curd” which is a very sweet flan type food. My favorite was the “bang-bang-bang.” It is a sticky rice ball covered in flour, and dipped in a sweet sauce. When they make it, a man throws three balls into the flour, making a “bang” noise. I asked the guy if we could throw the balls into the flour, and he let Macie and I try! Needless to say, it’s harder than it looks. :P
After we ate and ate and ate, we went to the metro and hopped on over to the panda post. It is a store just outside of the subway stop, where a lot of tourists go. There you can choose a postcard and send it to your family! Macie and I decided we would do this for our families. Eldora told us the man said it could take up to a year to get to its final destination though, oops! Lily, Wu, Eldora, Macie, and I also took many pictures together as a memory of our day spent together! We each wrote messages to each other on the pictures, and put cute stamps on them. It is one of my favorite memories and souvenirs I will have here from Chengdu. (:
We said good-bye to Wu, because he was going back to his high school to meet his teacher. The four of us girls headed on over to the Sichuan Art Museum. Eldora told us there were four main pieces when it comes to Chinese Art. I don’t remember all of them, but the brush strokes utilized in the paintings was one we definitely saw within the art pieces at the museum. There were many artworks dealing with war and animals. We also saw a lot of calligraphy and Chinese writing. 
Next, we went to Tianfu Square where we were greeted by millions of little pandas! It was so much fun to pose with all of them! After a huge photo shoot with China’s national treasure, we went to Chunxi Road, a giant shopping center. Eldora told us there are three famous cities in China that are known for shopping: Hong Kong, Shanghai, and of course, Chengdu. She also told us that at the end of this year there will be a new Disney in Shanghai, and it will be the biggest one in the world! Just a heads up for whoever is thinking about coming to Chengdu next year. ;)
Finally, we arrived at the IFS building. There is a giant panda that scales the side of the building here. It was built by an American artist, who also built a giant blue bear in Denver. We went all the way up to the building to take pictures with the smiling panda. It was so beautiful at the top! Not only did we get to see the panda, but there were other several pieces of artwork there too! After another photo shoot, we headed down to the basement, where we explored the library. There were many Chinese books there, including books in English and several other languages. Lily and Eldora were excited to hear us talk about all the English books there. They even had said they saw the Notebook! 
As we headed home, it had started to rain. Thankfully, Lily got us an Uber (yes, they have that here) and we didn’t get too wet! We ended our day eating at a lovely restaurant near our home. Eldora and Lily ordered a large bowl filled with all kinds of vegetables. In the bowl there were also quail eggs, which I was very fond of. With our stomachs full we headed back to our hotel. Eldora wanted to give us one more treat though! She ordered us what she calls “pancakes.” Mine was filled with chocolate and vanilla cream and Macie got a potato and meat one. It was my favorite thing I have eaten in China so far. Overall, we had an awesome day. I loved exploring the city with Eldora and her friends. They are so much fun to be with, and very fluent in their English as well! :)