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Panda updates – Friday, December 18

We talk a lot about how each giant panda in our care is an individual, and nothing highlights that more than their mannerisms while eating! Each bear has their own special quirks that makes them unique.  

Lun Lun is extremely picky about her bamboo. When we offer her bamboo one piece at a time, she sniffs it, sometimes will culm it a little to double check her first impressions, and if she does not like it she will pull it into the den with her and toss it to the side, awaiting the next piece-contestant. 

Yang Yang loves his leafeater biscuits, but under no circumstances will he make a big effort to find them if they have been scattered around his dayroom. He will flawlessly perform many training behaviors without tiring of receiving biscuits as a reward, but if I put them high up on a log, that’s exactly where they will be the next day. Last week I tested this theory by putting 15 leafeater biscuits in an area he would have to climb to reach. It’s an area that every other giant panda happily climbs to in order to find leafeater biscuits, and while 15 is not a large portion of his diet, it still should have been a tempting amount. However, despite having all night to do it, Yang Yang took a pass on making that effort, and keepers the next day found the biscuits just where I had left them, entirely undisturbed. Of course, he then got to enjoy them his way – offered in a pile easily within reach. The pandas always win! 

Xi Lun really takes her time eating leafeater biscuits. She is so much slower than Ya Lun that we often give them to her two at a time. When we do this, she leans back, sometimes to the point of almost lying down, and chews one biscuit while holding the other in her paw. Once she’s finished her first biscuit, she starts taking small bites out of her second biscuit, holding the remains of it in her paw. We love to see if we can get her to take three biscuits at a time so she has to hold one in her mouth and one in each paw! The twins often sit side by side during these feedings, and if they have found a piece of bamboo they both like, they casually steal it back and forth from one another in between biscuits. Sometimes Xi Lun will keep a paw holding onto the bamboo piece while the Ya Lun rips some leaves off. As soon as Ya Lun lets go, Xi Lun pulls it right back to herself! 

Ya Lun is an unstoppable biscuit-eating machine! She’s so quick that we break a lot of her leafeater biscuits in half. That way we can ask her to pause and eat some bamboo before receiving the second half of the biscuit. We usually feed Xi Lun and Ya Lun biscuits at the same time.  We make sure we have approximately the same amount of biscuits left for each bear because if we ran out of biscuits for Ya Lun first, she would come over and try to steal Xi Lun’s share! 

We love watching the pandas express their personalities in all sorts of way. If you have noticed any quirks of personality of the pandas while watching the PandaCam or visiting them at the Zoo, we would love to hear them!

Michelle E.
Keeper III, Mammals

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl