China Is Struggling To Find Panda Keepers

Dylan Turck
A lack of qualified workers has left a Giant Panda sanctuary in China without enough caretakers. Despite hundreds of applicants applying for the role, there has yet to be an applicant that has been accepted for the position.
A mother panda and her cub. Photo: Diana Silaraja | Pexels
A mother panda and her cub. Photo: Diana Silaraja | Pexels

A sanctuary for pandas located near the Nanshan Bamboo Forest in Jiangsu provinceEastern China has run into some staffing problems. Due to the success of the sanctuary’s breeding program, the sanctuary requires a new caretaker.

Unfortunately, the position has yet to be filled with people saying there may be a lack of workers in this particular field, and others remarking that the requirements to apply for the role were set too high.

The South China Morning Post reported that the job posting sparked interest in the story as it went viral with over 120 million people viewing and commenting on the post on Weibo.

What Are The Requirements To Become A Panda Caretaker?

Many people believe that the job of an animal caretaker is fun because you get to work with animals, but this is far from reality. The truth is that the responsibilities of an animal caretaker are much more in-depth than just feeding and looking after the animal.

Veterinarians in training. Photo: EVG Kowalievska | Pexels

Caretakers need to have extensive knowledge of the animals they are looking after. Things like dietary needs, behavioral studies, fecal inspection, medicinal administration, enclosure requirements, natural stimulation, and threat assessment will all need to be carefully examined by a trained professional.

The requirements stated by the managing director of this particular sanctuary included a degree in either animal rearing or veterinary studies in addition to prior experience in maintaining and caring for animals in a zoo, breeding program, or sanctuary. It is for this reason that the majority of the applicants who have applied to the job posting have been dismissed.

A love of animals is only the first step to becoming an animal caretaker and while most people want to work with Giant Pandas, many of the people applying have forgotten that this is still a wild animal that requires a trained professional to handle and care for.

Pandemonium In China

Panda cubs eating Bamboo. Photo: Stone Wang | Unsplash

The Giant Panda is the rarest member of the bear family and the most internationally recognized animal in China. In the 1980s, pandas almost went extinct with the species being put on the critically endangered list.

The species became symbolic in the fight against human-caused mass extinction, so much so that the WWF (The World Wildlife Fund) has used the Giant Panda as its logo since its inception.

In recognition of this fact, the Chinese government allocated millions towards breeding programs and sanctuaries to increase the population both in captivity and in the wild. These efforts have led to the population of pandas tripling in the last 30 years.

The increase has only been hindered by the fact that a female Panda is only able to fall pregnant once a year. Pandas can have up to two cubs but generally are only able to care for one. The mother will not have another until their cub is old enough to survive on their own, which is typically at three years old. 

A study conducted in 2014 by the WWF found that the efforts by the Chinese government have directly led to the birth of over 800 pandas in captivity and whose reintroduction projects have increased the population of pandas in the wild to around 1860.

These efforts have led to the Giant Panda being moved off the red list, now being classified as vulnerable, saving the species from the brink of extinction.


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