Panda Updates – Monday, December 10
Ya Lun and Xi Lun are little bamboo-eating machines! We are currently training them the “bamboo” cue, and they are making it so easy because they love to eat bamboo. It may sound strange to say that we are training them to eat bamboo; however, that’s not exactly what we are doing. The goal is to teach them that they can receive a reward for eating bamboo. Pandas are very specific about what bamboo they eat, and, unfortunately for us, they choose it by smell. Since we keepers and the Bamboo Team do not have the olfactory abilities of a panda, we do end up with bamboo that the pandas refuse to eat. On days when the bamboo we have is rejected, the bamboo cue allows us to ask the pandas to eat bamboo, and if they eat even just one leaf, they receive a leafeater biscuit as a reward, just like any other trained behavior. This cue is a great way to encourage the pandas to eat bamboo when the bamboo we have on offer is not to their liking. It’s a win-win!
Senior Keeper, Carnivores
(photo by Heather R.)