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Panda Updates – Monday, November 18

We occasionally offer browse items (plants approved by our Veterinary and Horticulture Teams) to the giant pandas as a form of enrichment. This provides the chance for them to investigate something they don’t encounter every day. Historically, Yang Yang has enjoyed eating mulberry when offered to him, and he will even harvest his own if it is growing in one of the outdoor habitats. In the past few years, Lun Lun has also decided she enjoys an occasional piece of it, and like Yang Yang, she will strip off the outer layer of bark and eat the inside. Ya Lun and Xi Lun have also gotten mulberry before, but neither showed any interest. A few weeks ago we found a large piece right before the freeze, so we offered it to all four giant pandas. Not surprisingly, Yang Yang and Lun Lun both started munching away at their pieces. Ya Lun went straight for her piece and also started eating it (not too big of a surprise since Ya Lun eats just about everything). Xi Lun, however, was not impressed and immediately looked at us as if to say “Hey, that’s not a leafeater biscuit.” Recent research shows that bamboo leaves have more protein than previously thought, so it would be interesting to find out the protein content of mulberry bark and see if this is why they might eat this browse item but not others that we offer them. (This picture is composed of two separate pictures. Yang Yang never shares the same space with Ya Lun and Xi Lun.)

Danica W.
Keeper II, Mammals

(photos by Danica W.)

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