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A few weeks ago, Zoo Negara (The National Zoo of Malaysia) has launched a new programme called the Giant Panda Keeper Experience which allows the public to get close and experience being a panda keeper, and the response of the programme is overwhelming.

According to The Star, all of the slots for this month are fully taken, and each day is limited to only three people, meaning that more than 100 people have already registered for the programme since it has started since 18 March.

“Many have requested and signed up for the programme. We are now arranging the duty schedule for May,” said Zoo Negara education department head Junaidi Omar.

The programme follows the footsteps of China’s Chengdu Panda Keeper Programme at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding which is meant to educate the public about the dying breed and ways to conserve them.

Nevertheless, Zoo Negara in Malaysia is not the only place that practices this educational programme, there are several countries in Asia that have similar approach on their wildlife.

1. Wildlife Reserves Singapore – Junior Zoo Keeper

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The programme is basically similar to the one in Malaysia except for the age range. While the Malaysian programme is open only for those aged 16 and above, the Singapore’s is looking for those aged between 11 to 14 years old. Also, the Junior Zoo Keeper programme focuses more on a wide range of animals instead of only one like the Malaysia’s panda programme. The juniors will learn how to prepare food for the animals and then feed them and also come up with enrichment activities for the animals

2. Bali Zoo – Zookeeper for a Day

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Bali Zoo’s programme also allows the public to get close and personal with some of the animals in the zoo except that there is no age range for this programme. Some of the animals that the volunteers may encounter are the Sumatran elephants, bearcat, wallaby, gibbons and the Bengal tiger cubs. Some of the activities here include preparing dietary nourishment for the animals, create various type of enrichment toys as well as nursing and interacting with the baby animals.

3. Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center – Bear Keeper for a Day

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Like the Malaysia’s panda programme, the public will get a chance to get up close and personal with the sun bears and moon bears at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center. For this programme, volunteers will get to learn how the animals are cared, prepare meals, enrichment toys and special treats for them, and then hide the food in the bear’s enclosures. However, volunteers of the programme are not allowed to hold, touch or have any direct contact with the bears at the center.

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