Sunday, June 5, 2016


Name: Taryn Chudo
Year: Junior, Class of 2018
Location: Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China
Internship: Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding- Animal Behavior Research

It’s so weird to think that we have been in Chengdu for almost a month now! Time sure has flown by here! We are finally completely settled in and are starting to fall into a routine. Every morning we watch the panda cubs and work on identifying all nine. Each day we are getting better and better. Currently we are able to tell all of the sets of twins apart from the others, but we are still working on telling each of the twins apart! With each passing day I realize how different these ‘identical’ animals really are. We have practiced collecting data quite a few times and we are working on setting up the excel sheet to accommodate both the continuous and the point time sampling data that we are collecting. Both Kelly and I are pretty anxious and cannot wait to start collecting actual data! If you ask me I will not admit that my favorite panda is Meng, the only cub without a twin.

Not only have we been watching the cub’s behavior, we have also gotten several opportunities to learn more about panda husbandry. On hot afternoons (and even some mornings) we get to go behind the scenes to watch the cubs. This has allowed us to get closer to them than I ever thought I would get. It is interesting how different it is to identify an animal up close and far away. We also got the chance to help James give one of the adult pandas enrichment. He filled a Kong with apple and gave it to her. She went right to it and carried it around for a little bit. Although both us and the panda quickly realized that the apple was too tight in the Kong and almost impossible for her to get out. Next time we will have to make sure that it is easier for her to get it out.
            The food has been a pretty big adjustment for both of us, but at this point it’s pretty much smooth sailing! I am very thankful that Kelly already knows some great places to eat around us. We have gone to a dumpling restaurant (so far my favorite place) more times than I can count and also have found a really good noodle place that has a picture menu (a true life saver!). We went to a fancier restaurant at the nearby mall and had roasted duck tacos, which were pretty amazing! Ju, Kelly and I also found this amazing vegetarian hot pot place that is phenomenal! It was buffet style so we could go and get the exact food that we wanted and however much we wanted! I cannot wait to go back! Every chance we get to go to hot pot we take, it is just so darn good. This guy that Ju met at the airport offered to take us and of course we agreed. He ordered for us and urged us to try new things which we agreed to. When the food came explained that he had gotten various vegetables and a couple different kinds of meat. We got lotus root (Kelly’s favorite), potatoes, mushrooms, tofu, cow stomach, pig esophagus, and much more! It was an interesting experience, but as always the hot pot was delicious and so spicy that I couldn’t feel my lips afterwards. Ju has also shown us the joys of Boba Milk Tea. The food is definitely something that I am going to miss!
            We spend a lot of our free time with Ju, which is great! She has some friends here in Chengdu and she took us to meet one. Her friend graciously fed us traditional Thai food (which was amazing) and then we had chili chocolate ice cream bars for dessert. I have got to find these back in the states! After dinner Ju and her friend taught us how to salsa dance and then took us to dance! It was so much fun! Later that week Ju took us to a swing dancing group. They had a quick lesson for those that were new and then we got to dance with some amazingly nice people! Both Kelly and I agree that we will have to go back with Ju sometime soon! All three of us have gone to Jinli Sqaure where we ate Tibetan food, including spicy yak, and continued the tradition of adding our own wish bag to the wish tree at Jinli. We found Kelly’s and Macie’s bag from last year and tied our right next to theirs! We will have to be sure to tell whoever comes next year exactly where they are so they can add their own bag!
We also went to the Chengdu Zoo. It was an interesting trip that made all of us appreciate the zoos and regulations in place in America. It was definitely an amazing experience to have and I would recommend this to anyone that goes. The collection had a pretty strong emphasis on goldfish and birds, which was pretty interesting.

            So far China has been great to Kelly and I and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the trip has to offer us. I look forward to every minute of every day and I know that it is always an adventure!

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