Let’s face it, some jobs are better than others. Being a mattress tester or ice cream taster? Those sound like some pretty darn good jobs. Dressing up as a panda to play with panda cubs? Now that would be the best job ever.
For some lucky women (or men — the costume obscures gender) in China, they get to don a panda costume and cuddle panda cubs all day. Doesn’t that sound like a dream?
Best job in the world! Cuddling panda cubs – dressed up to help them learn to live without humans 🤗🐼🐾 (ipanda/People's Daily, China) pic.twitter.com/9XUnST0HCc— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) July 25, 2017
And while this job appears to be absolutely amazing, it’s actually a lot of work. The caretakers job is to teach the cubs to live without humans so they could potentially survive in the wild. Living with humans, or at least humans that look like humans, can lead to attachment which “can hinder a panda’s chances of survival once it is released,” The Atlantic wrote.
To give these cubbies their best shot at life in the wild, caretakers go to great lengths to blend in. That means they’ll do anything from rubbing panda urine on themselves (yuck!) to pretending to be trees.
Another reason for the costumes is that they reduce the cub’s potential stress levels. Imagine how scary it would be to see a giant creature walking on two legs towards you. We bet it would be pretty jarring to go from only seeing your panda mom to being poked and prodded by some hairless thing in a blue mask.
That said, after BBC shared their video of a caretaker in China playing with the cubs, the internet immediately begged to know how they could get this job.
What career path do I need to take to become a fake panda? https://t.co/ItKw0X9iI6— Stew Hicks & other short stories (@StewHicks) July 25, 2017
In the wrong profession, I need the job of panda cuddler 🐼🐼🐼🐼🐼🐼🐼— Sarah Hogg (@sarahhogg196) July 25, 2017
While we’d be pretty thrilled to help nurture baby pandas, we do have one request. Can we do something about these costumes? It doesn’t seem as though there’s a standard uniform for caretakers. The person in the BBC wears a get-up that looks like a typical Halloween costume while the subjects in photographer Ami Vitale look downright terrifying.
View this post on Instagram
Photo by @amivitale #onassignment for @natgeo. This is a rare moment when a panda keeper in costume does a quick two-month health check on a cub at Wolong China Conservation & Research Center for the Giant Panda in Sichuan Province, China. He first must carefully wait for the mother panda to leave while she forages for food and then quickly weighs and checks the cub. Because these pandas will be released back into the wild, the interaction with the keepers is very limited and they must wear costumes which are scented so the pandas never get used to humans. The pandas must go through a series of tests over two years to be sure they are ready to live in the wild because after just one generation in captivity, they forget the skills they need to survive in the wild. @ipandacam @natgeo @natgeocreative @thephotosociety @nikonusa #pandas #babypandas #wolong #sichuan #conservation #natureisspeaking #china #animals #wildlife #photooftheday #photography #nature #seetheworld #nikonnofilter #nofilter #nikon #d4s #nikonambassador #photojournalism #amivitale
What do you think? Should we sign you up, too?
h/t Travel + Leisure