Welcome to our new Winter Panda Intern: Maria Blanco Perez

Maria with an Alligator Snapping Turtle, Monroe, Luisiana
Maria with an Alligator Snapping Turtle, Monroe, Luisiana

As I mentioned in our earlier post introducing Ryan Boarman we’ve been lucky enough to increase our internship program with our new panda projects.  Not only will Ryan be traveling to China in about one month, but Maria Blanco Perez will also be joining us!

Maria is from Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago located close to the southwest coast of Morocco.

She is a recent biology graduate, and plans to start her masters program in conservation biology by September, 2015. She recently received her Bachelors from IE University Segovia where she majored in Biology  and minored in Business Administration.  She took a year off after graduation because she wanted to gain more working experience.  She was an exchange student at Michigan State University Michigan during her Bachelors and is currently working in Arizona (my home state!).

Reaching for seeds, Wits Rural Facility, South Africa
Reaching for seeds, Wits Rural Facility, South Africa

She has had extensive conservation biology work experiences.  She spent two months studying tortoises in the Zoo Aquarium de Madrid designing an ethogram for Stigmochelys pardalis and Geochelone sulcata.  Maria has also worked on Spiny Softshell turtles (Apalone spinifera), studying nest predation and reproduction habits of the turtles with the use of time-lapse cameras. (I have to inject here that I thought it was random that both my hired interns had work on tortoises).  In early 2014 she conducted field research in Kruger National Park, South Africa helping a phD student on plant ecology work.  This introduced her to the amazing flora in Kruger National Park such as the Baobabs and the Acacias. Right now she is volunteering as a field assistant for a non-invasive carnivore study in Arizona.  During her stay she has visited different national parks (Saguaro National Park, Chiricahuas and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument) to set time-lapse cameras and animal track plates which will hopefully capture large carnivore movements.

She is very excited to go to China (since she has never been there), and especially to study giant pandas! And of course, it goes without saying that we are also super excited to have her on the team!  Help us give a big welcome to Maria and keep an eye out on posts from her in China.  At the Grand canyon National Park

The interns will arrive at the beginning of March and we’ll have a giant panda behavior “boot camp”.   If you remember from Stephanie’s internship, those first couple of weeks can be intense in the winter so blog posts are sure to be awesome!  Plus, during the first couple of days there it’s the Lantern Festival which marks the end of the Chinese New Years Celebrations!


Summer Panda Internship NOW OPEN

pandainternWe are excited to announce that our Summer 2015 Panda Internship is now open. The interns will focus on collecting personality profiles through behavioral analysis on the bears.  We will be accepting two interns who will live in Ya’an, Sichuan, China. The application closes on January 31st, so be sure to apply before the closing date. For more information, please refer to the internship tab on our homepage, or click here: Summer 2015 Panda Internship. Good Luck!

Welcome to our new Winter Panda Intern: Ryan Boarman

Ryan Boarman

I know it’s been a depressingly long time since I’ve written a post – I hope you all forgive me for my lack of attention during the final steps of my dissertation!  I’m excited to say that even though I haven’t been blogging regularly I’ve been working like mad to continue our giant panda work which has included applying for grants, writing & signing contracts, and hiring two new interns for the upcoming winter research.  We’re super excited to have two interns this time around because the workload for our new project, male-male competition in captive breeding, will be large and require extra help.  We’ve invited Ryan Boarman and  Maria Blanco Perez to participate in this new and upcoming study but because I still want to give each of them the credit they deserve for making it through this extremely competitive process I’ll introduce Ryan this week and Maria next.

Ryan Boarman graduated from California State University, Long Beach, and is a Wildlife Biologist and Environmental Geographer. Ryan’s research interests include the conservation of threatened and endangered species and ecosystems. While working on his Bachelors Degree in Geography, Ryan was awarded research internships with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the United States National Science Foundation. He also has a certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). 

Ryan developed his field biological skills and gained conservation experience through extensive fieldwork on native and invasive plant species, the conservation of Atlantic bluefin tuna, coastal ocean pollution, Desert Tortoises, raptor nesting ecology, and other species of concern. Working in the Mojave Desert, Ryan has radio tracked, surveyed and x-rayed hundreds of desert tortoises to study the effectiveness of translocation and to monitor the effects of humans on desert tortoises. Ryan’s research on the Atlantic bluefin tuna and their habitat, using NASA’s high-resolution radar satellites and in situ measurements, has further helped scientific understanding of identifying the floating algae that Atlantic bluefin tuna spawn in.


Ryan has traveled to multiple countries in Asia, Latin America, Europe, and Africa.  His passion for traveling and nature has given him the opportunity to appreciate various environments, cultures, and different ways of life. It has taught him to be very flexible, creative, and adaptable. Both his professional experiences and his traveling have given him the desire to develop and apply unique solutions to everyday problems, which makes him and ideal candidate for researching abroad in China with us.

We’re so excited to welcome Ryan to the panda team and are looking forward to updates he will be sending us from the CCRCGP very soon!


Preparing For China 2015

Here is a pic from our first year in China. Time flies when you get to hold panda cubs.

Every December, PDX Wildlife shifts into high gear in order to prepare for the upcoming Giant Panda internships, which take place in Ya’an, Sichuan, China. We recently selected two Panda interns for the upcoming winter breeding season and will be opening up to new applications for the following Spring/Summer Panda Internship, so check back in the following weeks for more infomation.

Traveling into China can be a daunting task the first time around, but with this being our 5th year of traveling to the far east, we have learned a few tricks to make the transition a breeze. Here are a few tips:

  1. Plan and prepare early. It pays to do your research on how to apply for the visa and what to say in order to receive the longest visa duration as possible. This last year was the first time that we were allowed a 1 year, multiple entry visa. This saved us quite a bit of money with multiple trips to/from the USA and China.
  2. The price of flights can often vary all over the place. Coincidentally, we usually travel during the Chinese New Year, which drives the cost up 20%. Try to travel outside of the holidays to save some dough.
  3. The time between your flights can make all the difference. If you give yourself 45 minutes to navigate the Beijing airport and customs agents, you could be in for a long night of bench sleeping. When you switch countries, try to give yourself at least 1.5 hours. We’ve personally seen it take as much as 3 hours.

We could spend hours on how to make the journey as simple and carefree as possible. But what really makes the difference is understanding that things WILL and DO go wrong. Relax, sip some Chinese tea, and you will make it to your destination. Feel free to send us an email if you have any questions about traveling in China.

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