Honored as one of the “Global Top 500” environmental conservation entities by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and named as a National Science Education Base, a National Science and Technology Education Base for Teenagers and an Advanced Institution of Science Education and Ecological Conservation at Chengdu Municipal Level and Sichuan Provincial Level, Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is a world advanced nature conservation and education institution. It is committed to conservation education as well as giant panda breeding, using the support of its strong of science education expertise and human resources to play a significant role in spreading awareness about biodiversity conservation, represented by the endangered species of the giant panda.
Organizations and teams
At the end of the 1990s, Chengdu Panda Base experts realized that saving a species can not be achieved only through scientific research and wildlife conservation institutions unless the public were encouraged to alter their actions and participate in conservation activities to help create fundamental improvements to protect and save the existing and quickly vanishing environment. Education was recognized as the most effective means to conserve and protect biodiversity.
In 2000 the Chengdu Panda Base became a conservation pioneer, as it introduced advanced conservation concept and methods from abroad into China’s zoological garden system, and \established the Department of Conservation Education, the first of its kind in the sector of endangered wildlife conservation and research in China and the first and largest conservation education institution in China’s zoological garden system. Gradually the Chengdu Panda Base employed 23 qualified full-time education professionals. For years, it has been devoted to cooperating with foreign zoos and introducing advanced education concepts to improve the performance of the team in education. Currently, it has conducted a series of professional training programs through joint efforts with Zoo Atlanta, School of Tourism of the University of Queensland, Australia, British Chester Zoo, etc. The conservation education team of the Base has played an increasingly important role in tutorial development, project-based research, activities organization, magazine edition and other aspects, as a result of the introduction foreign experts, international cooperation, joint projects of professional training and other similar efforts.
Conservation Education Resources
The Chengdu Panda Base has made great efforts to develop, integrate and improve education resources to effectively conduct conservation education research and apply and provide better conditions for the conservation team.
In order to improve the conditions of the panda base, different sources have been utilized for giant panda conservation, such as the majestic scenery of a 165 acre ecological park, and the world’s largest artificial breeding population of captive giant pandas. It has advanced expertise and facilities for giant panda research and an annual flow of over 600,000 domestic and foreign visitors, which create optimal conditions for conservation education. In addition to the previously established world’s first museum specialized in giant panda conservation and including other rare and endangered wildlife and a vertebrate museum with rich collection, we have successively built a Panda Story Cinema, Hall of Giant PandaResearch, Giant Panda Hospital, Giant Panda Kitchen and other supporting facilities for education. We have established an official website “www.panda.org.cn” and the magazine Giant Panda as another platform to conduct conservation education. Furthermore, we also shared and utilized expertise and facilities of our Chinese and international partners in conservation education. In order to increase conservation education, we have set up environmentally-friendly road signs and mottos, naturally designed visitor rest locations, miniature landscapes where appropriate, built or renovated paths and scenic spots for visitors across the entire panda base as a special effort to improve the environment of the panda base.
In order to build the capabilities of the panda base, focus has been directed on partnership with domestic and foreign education and wildlife conservation experts and institutions for the purpose of learning advanced education concepts, experiences and expertise.
Concept and model
The concepts of conservation education are the essential guidelines for advancement in this field, thus the Chengdu Panda Base has always attached great importance to updating and developing these ideas. It does this through efforts to avoid formalism and doctrinairism in education activities due to backward concept. Due to urbanization both adults and children today are generally isolated from nature, so the Chengdu Panda Base has emphasized active involvement and interaction with the environment to establish understanding and nurture enthusiasm for environmental conservation.
Therefore, our conservation education team has decided to conduct conservation education in various methods in a different education projects and activities. Our perception is that the public should be instructed properly and be inspired as to how to care and nurture the environment, and learn how to build skills and change their behaviors to be able to address environment problems. Our the team has also designed and tried different education methods for various target groups such as; children, teenagers, teachers, parents, visitors, University students, community residents and natural reserve staff. As well it has focused efforts to work with schools to incorporate conservation and humane education into lessons and extracurricular activities.
Presently we have carried out conservation education projects and activities for different target groups at different venues and through various means as follows：
1.Ability building project: To expand the effects of conservation education, every year we hold a few training courses for school teachers, natural reserve staff and key members of environmental conservation societies at Universities to build their environmental conservation knowledge.
2.School project: Adolescence are the formative years to build conservation ideals, therefore we have carried out numerous conservation education projects in primary and secondary schools, and kindergartens. This includes optional courses in the subjects of water resources, wildlife conservation and biodiversity, and more and also incorporates extracurricular activities as well as tutorials for students of various ages to integrate environmental education into daily classroom teaching.
3.Natural reserve project: Wildlife in natural reserves are severely threatened by growing human population whose living depends on local natural resources for their survival and increased tourism in the region. We conducted baseline surveys of the threats faced by the local environment and the environment awareness of the local villagers. Based on these findings, we have held training courses on a case-by-case basis for natural reserves staff and local school-teachers, prepared tutorials for the specific areas, promoted and instructed in environment conservation practices to encourage environment conservation and sustainable living.
4.Community project: To expand conservation education, we have carried out numerous environmental conservation themed promotional activities in the community, schools and other places, including "protecting the giant panda, protecting our common homeland" charity sale, To be a Qualified Pet Owner", Care for Animal Wellbeing, etc.
5.Education tourism project: To meet the alternate needs of different tourist groups, we initiated “International Interns”, “Summer Camp”, “Off-campus Activities”, “Parent-child Tourism”, and other projects. To educate tourists we built “Interactive Presentation Stand”, “Panda Story Cinema” , The Hall of Giant Panda Research, Giant Panda Museum and other venues with advanced international exhibition concepts to increase visitors knowledge and understanding about conservation.
6.Other approaches for conservation education: In addition those that wish to visit but cannot come to the panda base, information is available on related websites and various publications like the magazine Giant Panda, various tutorials, conservation education readings, and audiovisual products on conservation. We have always attached importance to the website access, and our website hits and the panda blog have always ranked top among the websites of this kind.
First, we will strengthen the construction of education facilities, including designing and arranging exhibitions of new giant panda museum, constructing facilities in Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Dujiangyan Research Center for Giant Panda Breeding and Releasing, and designing and developing related supporting education projects. Among them, the Giant Panda Museum, an interactive museum exhibiting ecological conservation for giant panda with international advanced environmental conservation concept and technology, will be completed and put into use as soon as possible. The museum will include Children Center,Conservation Classroom, Simulation Laboratory,manual-training classroom and rooms for animal simulation and remote observation of the giant panda.
Second, we will optimize and upgrade the existing education brand projects to expand effect of conservation education through domestic and foreign cooperation, including international education tourism experience project, volunteers, interns, and other projects.
Thirdly, we will do increase training conservation education professionals and developing tutorials. We will seek to set up conservation education facilities, including popular science venues, zoos, museums, to build more professionals and practitioners, such as school teachers, normal professional students, nature reserve staff, tour guide and environmental conservation community members, etc., for China’s environmental conservation cause and develop conservation education tutorials in close collaboration with schools and protected areas to incorporate conservation education into the education system and the daily work of natural reserves.
Last but not the least, we will initiate a publicity campaign for conservation education to promote an environment–friendly low-carbon lifestyle as a formula for a modern life.