Panda Update – Friday, July 21
“What’s it like working with the pandas?” We get that question a lot as we walk around the Zoo, or even run errands after work in our Zoo shirts. We always love what we do, and every day is different. Some days are just outright fun. Lun Lun tends to spend most of her energy eating and playing with the cubs, while Yang Yang really enjoys the company of the keepers. We try very hard to not attribute human emotions, feelings, or behaviors to the animals in our care so that our perceptions do not skew our actual understanding of their true natural behaviors. These are still wild animals, and it is our job to understand their wants and needs based on giant panda behavior, and not just human feelings.
And then Yang Yang gets a wild hair. He genuinely seems to enjoy being in the company of the keepers; sometimes even more than others. This week it has been difficult to even shift him out to his food, as he sits at his door looking at us, sniffing the air and displaying play behaviors when we talk to him. He has been incredibly playful this week, playing with his jolly balls and his hanging feeder barrel, but what he has seemed to enjoy the most, is interacting with us. This morning was no exception. When we tried to shift him, he ran over and started tumbling and rolling around excitedly. I’m sure many of you have seen him do this in his habitat when he gets a favorite toy or scent; well, he also likes to do it with us around. Generally we just cheer him on and take this opportunity to give him the attention he is soliciting. One of the best parts of our job is watching the animals in our care display natural play behaviors, and if we can have a small part in encouraging play or providing them with what they need to solicit these behaviors, then we’ve had a great day. I hope you were able to tune in to PandaCam these last few days and catch some of his antics. We’ve tried our best to give him some camera time for all to enjoy.
Lead Keeper, Carnivores