Though most of us are ordinary people, we cannot underestimate the influence of many voices speaking up for wildlife. Everyone of us can be a Pambassador(Panda Ambassador).
After being chosen as a 2013 Pambassador, a number of people expressed appreciation and slight envy at my new “cutest job” . Several commented on how lucky I was to travel around the world and play with pandas all day. Though I did have contact with pandas in zoos across the globe,that aspect was just part of the entire experience. To complete the Pambassador Global Tour, we needed to work long hours observing the daily routine of giant pandas, cleaning and disinfecting enclosures, preparing food, and participating in scientific experiments related to panda breeding to name just a few of our responsibilities.
A large portion of our duties also involved educating the public. In several countries, we not only visited high-profile panda centers, but also hosted interactive lectures and classes for panda fans. During these classes, our teammate Melissa Katz shared her wonderful photos taken from our trip. Jerome Pouille, Melissa KatzJ and I each held Q&A sessions with guests in our own way highlighting different aspects of wildlife conservation ranging from common to more esoteric topics. While in Singapore, I had the unique opportunity to see as the resident chef sharing with everyone the secret recipes used to feed giant pandas. It was encouraging to see the seats completely hued in each lecture and participants joining in the discussions with their own ideas.
The more countries I visited, the more usually panda conservation heroes I encountered. Take it for example, my French teammate and fellow Pambassador Jerome Pouille, the “Panda Encyclopedia”. In my 27 years I had never met a foreigner so knowledgeable about all things associated with giant pandas, including Nora and fauna. Since the beginning of the annual competition, Jerome taught me quite a lot from his wealth of knowledge.
While serving as a Pambassador, I maintained a website where I wrote about and illustrated the experiences and wildlife conservation knowledge I gained along the way Panda enthusiasts responded and provided me with a lot of local research data from their regions. Several friendships emerged as a result of our joint efforts for giant panda conservation.
Over this past year the tide seems to have turned. Many people who initially expressed envy at my job have now joined me. It made me realize the impact of one voice speaking out for panda conservation. Although the Pambassador competition lasted only one month and the position only one year, I hope that my efforts inspire those around me to care more about animal protection and habitat conservation. Sustained and systematic attention to these issues is the most far-reaching effect in protecting giant pandas.
Though most of us are ordinary people, we can not underestimate the influence of many voices speaking up for wildlife. Every one of us can be a Pambassador.