Panda Updates- Monday, March 7
In a recent panda update, you may have read from Panda Care Team member Trish about the use of training to aid us in enabling the animals to participate in their own care. In her update, she discussed the importance of being able to maintain regular weight records on animals and the ways we do so for red panda Jackie. I thought I would share another very important training behavior I have been working on with Jackie for several months now.
If you have been to the Zoo lately, you may have noticed a sign at Jackie’s habitat that explains a crate and why a crate might be in Jackie’s space. This is because we have been working since earlier this year on a particular type of positive reinforcement training with Jackie. With this training, we present a crate with a side that can actually be moved inward. Essentially, Jackie goes into the crate, the door is closed, and we can move one wall of the crate closer to him. This allows us to get access to his side, flush against the side, more easily. This is very useful to administer things like vaccines or other medications that may need to be given via injection.
This training is entirely voluntary for Jackie. If he does not feel like participating, he absolutely has that choice. However, I have been working very hard to make the crate a positive place for him and have worked to ensure that these sessions are something that he is eager to participate in. This way, if we did ever need to use it, this is not a scary place, and is instead something he is very used to seeing and going into. So far, he has been an absolute rockstar with the training and generally participates very willingly!
When cued, Jackie will walk into the specified area, allow me to move his long tail in with him, close the door, and move in the side. For doing all of this, he gets some of his favorite treats: apples and grapes. He then waits there, even after the door is open, until I give him the signal that may stop repeating the requested behavior. I feed him several more pieces of his diet items by hand. This helps to maintain a very positive relationship between the two of us, red panda and care team member.
Keeper I, Mammals
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