PDXWildlife offers exciting and unique internships focused on collecting data for the Giant Panda Research Program. The internships help participants reach a range of academic and professional goals, while helping the core team undertake and manage programs and initiatives. With connections to the San Diego Zoo and the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP), the internship provides a well-rounded and practical experience, perfect for building a career in international biological conservation or zoo biology.
Internships are available seasonally throughout the year in Sichuan, China. Interns will work at research facilities in Bifengxia (Ya’an), Gengda, or Dujiangyan. Applicants must be available for the whole internship period, typically 12 weeks.
Interns who have an interest in undertaking their own small research projects, whether for academic purposes or for their own experience, are invited to do so. The internship provides an excellent opportunity to experience the planning and executing of projects in a conservation biology setting. PDXWildlife is happy to accommodate this type of project, and can provide the necessary supervision and guidance both in the planning and execution stages. We also supply a list of potential mini-project titles to help successful candidates choose an appropriate study subject. We can also review other research questions, although acceptance of these would be dependent on identifying an appropriate field supervisor (supplied by PDXWildlife). All interns receive a general orientation and induction course at the start of their visit, after which they are assigned to one of our project staff, though swapping in and out of different projects is also possible.
Typically, interns will spend about 4-5 hours a day focused on research activities either in the local office, around the neighboring cities, or in the field. During the rest of their time, interns are free to explore the area, improve their language skills, coordinate fun activities with other interns and staff, and mingle with visiting volunteers and researchers.
The intern’s primary responsibilities will be to conduct research on Giant Panda reintroduction training, captive breeding, stereotypic behavior, maternal care, and endocrinology projects. Some typical tasks include: daily tracking of panda locations to track familiarity, score giant panda behaviors during breeding, maternal care and stereotypic observations. Collect and prepare fecal samples for hormone analysis. Other duties might include cataloging fecal samples, downloading videos weekly, and writing a bi-monthly blog post.
Panda interns are expected to work independently, with only minimal supervision, managing their own time and meeting any assigned deadlines. You will usually be able to take at least one or
two days off each week, depending on current work priorities. On approved days off you can hike, go wildlife watching or take trips to other cities (at your own expense). There are various cultural events you may attend with local friends, such as festivals and national holidays, which can provide a fascinating and very personal insight into local traditions.
Example programs (all PDXWildlife panda projects are listed online):
- Weaning protocols of captive giant panda mother-cub pairs in Gengda
- Male-male competition in captive breeding of giant pandas in Bifengxia
- Selection methods for release and reintroduction of pandas in the wild in Gengda
- Effective mate preference in captive giant pandas in Ya’an