Xu Ping in China
Xu Ping in China
13 August 2010

Xu Ping likes pandas so much, she is dedicating her working life to conservation, as both a researcher and an educator.

The 28-year-old works at a Chinese panda breeding base and tourist destination while completing Master of Philosophy (MPhil) studies at The University of Queensland.

Ms Xu is manager of the Conservation Education Department at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan Province.

Her UQ studies focus on understanding the needs and interests of Chinese zoo visitors in relation to conservation education.

"I decided to study tourism because most visitors come to the breeding base for a tourism reason. It will be more effective if I combine a conservation message with a good visitor experience," Ms Xu said.

"As an educator, I hope to foster visitors' conservation attitudes and encourage their conservation behaviours to save the environment.

"It is very important to understand visitors to develop effective and meaningful conservation education programs and zoo experiences for them. My research will explore their interests and needs."

Ms Xu is conducting surveys in Chengdu and hopes to complete her research in May next year.

"I hope I can work for pandas and conservation as long as I can - and can influence more people in their conservation attitudes and behaviours.

"I like pandas and all the other living things that share the planet with us."

Ms Xu said it was important to be passionate about work and ensure it lined up with your interests.

"Do what you are interested in and what you think is useful. That way, you will have a lot of fun.

"I hope the results of this research will give an idea to all zoo educators in China about how to develop effective and meaningful conservation programs and visitor experiences."

Giant pandas live in mountain ranges in central China's Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. Human activities such as farming, forest clearing and development have restricted their ability to live in nearby lowland areas, forcing them into the mountains.

There are about 1600 giant pandas left in the wild. About 300 pandas live in zoos and breeding centres around the world, mostly in China.

Media: Erik de Wit (0417 088 772)