Panda Update- Monday, September 26
Enrichment looks a little different each day at the giant panda building, and that’s by design! Every day, we focus on a behavior that giant pandas and red pandas would do in the wild – climbing, smelling, foraging, self-anointing, etc. – and we try to change their environment to stimulate that behavioral response. Sometimes it’s as simple as adding something to their dayrooms or habitats, like a spice, that prompts them to roll around in the novel smell. Self-anointing, achieved! Or we will give them a toy that has leafeater biscuit-sized holes so the pandas have to do a little extra work for their food. Foraging or problem solving, unlocked! But we also do things that just involve moving items already existing in their environment, such as rearranging the logs in the dayrooms, placing their bamboo at the top of a climbing structure instead of on the ground, or taking mulch and sprinkling it high up on a log where it normally wouldn’t be found. Those are all ways to encourage the pandas to investigate areas of their habitats that they might not often spend a lot of time in, or, in the case of the high-up bamboo, to use their muscles and claws to climb and then balance on their panda “furniture.” We keep a schedule on the wall that helps us keep track of what natural behavior we are aiming to solicit that day, and log what we did on the computer so we can make sure not to repeat enrichment too often.
Keeper III, Mammals