The second part of our guest blog by Clare Kendall, freelance journalist and photographer, documents her time spent volunteering with giant pandas in China.
We decided to forego the baby cuddling photo op in favour of a half day voluntary work. We prepared panda food, mucked out their cages and fed them bits of apple and panda cakes on long sticks. The interaction with the bears and wonderful insights shared by their keeper felt much more satisfying than a few brief moments in the nursery at a cost of £200.
Even the adult pandas have a kind of Disney cuteness that I didn’t realise existed in the natural world. They look, for all the world, like men in panda suits. As I fed mine it’s panda cake it rolled onto its back nibbling the cake held in its front paws like a child trying to make a treat last longer whilst rubbing its back paws together in sheer excitement.
I think this adolescent bear was rapidly growing out of his favourite sleeping spot.
Let’s hope the income from the millions of tourists helps safeguard to future of this most beguiling of animals.