Cutest job in the world? Chengdu seeks panda ambassadors
Here is your chance to spend 365 days with some of the world's most adorable animals.
The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (aka the Chengdu Panda Base) has kicked off a three-month campaign to search for global panda ambassadors, or Pambassadors.
Dubbed "PandaQuest -- Be the Next Chengdu Pambassador," the program aims to recruit three panda lovers to look after and raise global awareness of China’s most iconic animal species for one year. Application is open to everybody in the world.
Final winners will serve as Chengdu Pambassadors from January 2013.
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They are also expected to join a five-month "Global Panda Conservation Tour" from the second quarter of 2013 to visit pandas at overseas zoos, including the Singapore Zoo and the Edinburgh zoo.
The goal of the project is to "develop global knowledge and awareness about giant panda conservation," according to the press release.
Who can be a Pambassador?
This is the second Pambassador program.
In 2010, six finalists from five different countries were chosen from more than 61,000 online applicants to work with pandas at the Chengdu Panda Base for one month.
Ali Shakorian, 28, from Sweden, was one of the 2010 Pambassadors.
He said a good candidate should "have a strong passion for nature and animal conservation and be willing to learn about the complex dynamics of animal conservation."
Pambassadors should also be able to share their joy and knowledge about pandas with children and adults, he added.
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Yumiko Kajiwara, another 2010 Pambassador, said their day-to-day work included feeding the pandas, cleaning the panda enclosure, learning about pandas, and smelling panda feces to ensure their health. ("Because they eat bamboos, their feces didn’t smell that bad.")
Kajiwara, 37, who hails from Tokyo, extended her stay in Chengdu after her Pambassador term as a volunteer at the Chengdu Panda Base. She plans to work full-time at the base in near future.
How to enter
The Chengdu Pambassador campaign is organized by non-profit organization Chengdu Panda Base in partnership with WildAid, an international NGO aiming to end wildlife smuggling, as well as the Yao Ming Foundation, a charity organization founded by the Shanghai-born former NBA star to improve the quality of life for children in China.
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The organizing committee will select 16 finalists from online applicants to take part in a three-week final competition in Chengdu from October 28. The winning Pambassadors will be announced on November 16.
The Chengdu Panda Base is open to tourists year-round and provides tri-lingual guide service (Mandarin, English and Japanese). A taxi to the base from Chengdu city center costs about RMB 30 (US$4.70).
The Chengdu Panda Base, 1375 Bei Xiongmao Da Dao, Chengdu, Sichuan 四川省成都外北熊猫大道1375号; +86 28 8350 7814; open daily 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; admission: RMB 58; www.panda.org.cn