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Panda Updates – Monday, August 16

Here at Zoo Atlanta, we use positive reinforcement training to work with many of the animals in assisting in their own care. Because giant pandas are bears, we work with them in a protected contact setting to ensure the safety of both the humans and bears involved. This means there is always a barrier between us and the panda. In theory, this could present a challenge in getting a closer look at different parts of their bodies since we can’t necessarily just move see whatever we need to see. However, through training, the pandas allow us to check them out when necessary without any other intervention needed. We can do things like provide eye drops, check their teeth, get voluntary blood draws, or do ultrasounds.

As we have mentioned in previous updates, Lun Lun is currently experiencing a pseudopregnancy. She is not pregnant as she is now retired from breeding, but she does still go through estrus. When female pandas go through estrus without getting pregnant, they almost always experience a pseudopregnancy in which their hormones still fluctuate, and their behavior changes as if they were actually pregnant. During pseudopregnancy, we opportunistically do ultrasounds with Lun Lun just to ensure that everything looks healthy. We use the ultrasound to check her uterus to make sure that all the tissues look normal and that nothing needs any extra attention. This is an excellent example of all the positive reinforcement training at work. Lun Lun tends to be extra sleepy during pseudopregnancy, but she will still come over and participate in training to allow us and our vet staff to check on her.

Megan H.
Keeper I, Mammals

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