Panda Updates – Friday, July 7
I always look forward to my days in the giant panda area. Of course it’s because I get to be in the company of the bears and the keepers. The air conditioning on these hot Georgia days has nothing to do with it … I know that a few of the keepers have written about the shift training that they are working on with the cubs, so I figured I’d give a quick update.
All of the training and patience is paying off. The girls are learning to shift to the normal “big bear” scale that their parents are weighed on, where they then received their biscuits while we get a weight on them. Then they come down off of the scale and over to the keepers to receive their supplemental formula through a slot in the den doors. After they are done, they are asked to “give” and we are able to take their bottles from them and reinforce them for letting the bottles go with a biscuit. All of this is part of the process of getting them, and us, used to them becoming big bears and learning how to participate in their care using positive reinforcement training.
All of this may sound easy, but each step is an impressive milestone in the girls’ learning process. They need to learn to voluntarily separate from Lun Lun, then be separated from one another (so we only get one on the scale), then shift by themselves through multiple shift doors in order to get to the other side of the building where they may spend the day or night. All of these steps are important in caring for them and in them gaining independence and confidence.
Lead Keeper, Carnivores
(photo by Stephanie B.)