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Panda Updates – Monday, August 14

Now that the cubs are older and have been eating leafeater biscuits more reliably and more quickly, we can start the process of training them. We have talked about training in previous posts but to reiterate, all of our training is completely voluntary on the animals’ parts, and it is all positive reinforcement based. Training is beneficial to both the keepers/vets and to the animals. It is mentally and physically stimulating for the animals, and it allows them to participate in their own care. The adults know numerous behaviors such as shoulder presentation for vaccinations or arm presentation for blood draws, among other behaviors. The cubs will not be able to do those things right out of the gate. Soon, the cubs will begin learning some basic behaviors such as positioning themselves in front of a target, shifting, presenting their paws, and lying down. Once they have the concept of training down and have learned these basic behaviors, the keepers can start teaching them some of the more advanced behaviors that their parents know. It will take some time, but in the end, the training benefits all involved. The training keeps the panda’s minds engaged and thinking, and it enables the keepers and vet staff to better care for them. Training is a win/win activity.
Shauna D.
Keeper II, Mammals

(photo by Stephanie B.)

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