Monday, July 6, 2015

Fun in China!

Name: Macie Smith
Class Year: Senior
Hometown: Beavercreek, OH
Internship: Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
Location: Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China

It’s hard to believe that Kelly and I have already been in China for just over a month! Four of the nine one year old panda cubs we have been watching were moved to Dujiangyan Research Center of Giant Panda Breeding and Release. Dujiangyan is also in Chengdu and the panda cubs will help with research looking into the release of giant pandas into their natural habitat, which is really exciting! Kelly and I are extremely happy to now be able to identify the five remaining cubs fairly easily. Because of this, we have finally begun recording data that we will actually be able to use toward this research project! By the end, we hope to be able to obtain at least 10 hours of data for each of the five panda cubs still at the panda base.

Now that we have had some time to get used to the area, Kelly and I now have a sort of routine established. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings we go into the red panda enclosures to collect fecal samples that will assist with a study the veterinarian staff are working on. Sometimes we get to look for fecal samples with specific colors of glitter in them, which we see as a sort of challenging scavenger hunt and actually enjoy our time in the enclosures. Plus, how many people can really say that they’ve been in an enclosure with red pandas?! On a rare occasion we get to follow James, our research advisor, and watch him do a training session with one of the adult pandas, which is really interesting! In the short time we’ve been here he’s already worked with her on holding her arm in the correct position for if veterinarians need a blood sample from her. Aside from this, we spend as much time as possible trying to observe the giant panda cubs in the mornings and afternoons. It’s been getting warmer out so the panda cubs are moved to the indoor enclosures earlier now so most of our data has been collected from indoors, which is much cooler for us as well as the pandas. If we have extra time we sometimes stop by the room with the newborn giant pandas on the walk back from the one year olds. At this point in time they are about two weeks old and already we can see the black and white coloration showing!

On the weekends we occasionally have Chinese lessons in the mornings and then explore the Chengdu area in the afternoons. The Chinese lessons have been better recently, but I’m afraid very few people understand us when we try to speak to them. There was even one night when we tried to order dinner and ended up with a plate of mushrooms! The students teaching us have been extremely kind and patient, but I’m afraid that I sometimes accidentally say curse words because they oftentimes laugh and just move on to another word.

After work and on the weekends, Kelly and I have been travelling all over the Chengdu area. A few places that we have visited include the China Bear Rescue Center, the Sichuan Opera, a Buddhist temple, Jinli Street, the Chengdu Zoo, a huge indoor waterpark inside of the Global Center, the Chengdu Haichang Polar Ocean World, and several malls and art/antique market places. We have seen a couple of movies in theaters and were happy to find that several movies play in English with Chinese subtitles. This weekend we plan on going to do KTV, which is really just karaoke, with a few of the Chinese interns also working at the panda base. We are also hoping to go to Leshan, which houses the world’s largest stone Buddha at nearly 250 feet tall as well as other scenic areas.

Overall, I have very much so been enjoying my time here in China and I cannot wait to see what this next month has in store for us!


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