by Georgia Akranis and Sarah King:
We are excited to join the Panda Reintroduction Project as Research Assistants at Panda Valley. Both of us are recent alumni of Drexel University. We were introduced to Global Cause Foundation through our professor, Dr. Jim Spotila. As a Vice President and Science Director for Global Cause, he was able to share an opportunity that made us pack our bags and travel to the other side of the world for a few months of serious science.
And now, here we are!
Our backgrounds are in Environmental Science, with a focus on field ecology, conservation, and animal behavior. We are both travel enthusiasts. Sarah has been to many places all over the United States as well as South Africa and Canada. Georgia has been to a few countries in Europe, including England, France, Spain, Holland, and Greece. Neither of us has ever made it to Asia, so that made this opportunity all the more appealing for us.
It’s quite hard to turn down a chance to travel, work with pandas, and be with your best friend. Although we may miss Philadelphia classics like cheesesteaks and Wawa, China has been treating us very well since we arrived a few weeks ago. The people have been so kind and graceful as we struggle to learn their language. We even had people wanting to take pictures with us, like we are celebrities or something!
The first pandas we saw at the Panda Base in Chengdu left us standing in awe with excitement written all over our faces. And as for seeing 23 tiny cubs all within one to four months of age, not much else can top that. It was in that moment that everything became real; we were actually here and lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with and help train two cubs of our own!
During our stay here, we will be assisting Dr. Rama Callan in working with our newest set of release cubs in the reintroduction program. We will also assist in data collection through plant surveys and gut microbiota analysis. We can’t wait to see what these three months have in store for us and we could not have done it without the support of Global Cause!
Stay tuned for more about our journey here!