Eight years ago, my mother called me and told me to turn on the TV. I asked her if everything was ok, and surely it was. She wanted me to see a bunch of baby pandas being nursed back to health after a disaster had struck in China, displacing many of them.
I immediately fell in love with them and the cuddly creatures quickly became the source of my affection and adoration. Over the years, I became slightly obsessed with the black and white bears, learning everything about them, owning all memorabilia relating to them, and even living next to them in Washington, DC. Yes, I chose to live next to the National Zoo because there were pandas there!
Needless to say, despite my various distant encounters with them, I decided my biggest bucket list item was to one day have the chance to get up close and personal with them. For years, I researched and dreamed of the opportunity to visit the panda research base in Chengdu, China.
Well, this year, I made it a goal to make that dream come true and of course, brought my mother along.
On August 11th, my mother and I flew from New York City to China for the chance to volunteer with pandas at the Dujiangyan Panda Research Center in Chengdu.
The one day experience was filled with fun, learning, and a little cuddling as well. Not only did we have the opportunity to feed the panda and clean its enclosure, but we got to sit right next to one and take a picture with it! I was in awe!
Now, you might say, “But aren’t pandas dangerous?”. Well, the answer is they can be. But when entertained with food, this particular panda was happy just to be eating his bamboo and let us hug him!
Although cuddling the cute creature lasted only seconds, it was a bucket list dream come true that I will never forget. I’ve made the picture my screen saver on my phone and cherish this beautiful bonding moment I had with some of the world’s most precious animals.
I can’t wait for my next adventure, but this one really was truly special!
you would like more information on this wonderful Panda experience, head to this website. https://www.chinahighlights.com/chengdu/attraction/dujiangyan-panda-valley.htm
Furthermore, if you would like to read more about Nikki and her bucket list experiences, check out her blog: https://nikkitakesnewyork.wordpress.com