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Panda Updates – Monday, October 25

My name is Sophie, and I am one of the Carnivore Interns at Zoo Atlanta! For the past three weeks, I have been helping the Panda Care Team and wanted to give a little insight into what life is like as a Zoo Atlanta Intern.
I begin the morning bright and early, arriving at the giant panda building by 8 a.m., dressed in my uniform, and change into my panda habitat shoes. This keeps the pandas safe by not introducing any contaminants from my regular shoes into the area.  As an intern, I help the Panda Care Team with their daily routine. This includes cleaning the dens and dayrooms, food preparation, enrichment, and other husbandry tasks. Studying animal behavior and cognition in school, I wanted to intern at an AZA-accredited zoo to observe the behaviors I had learned about in various species. Although it has only been three weeks, I have adored meeting the amazing Panda Team and learning about each panda’s unique personality and behaviors. For instance, Ya Lun loves sweet potatoes, and Xi Lun does not, so when preparing their diets, I need to make sure that Xi Lun does not receive any sweet potatoes.
My favorite part of the routine is enrichment, which is anything that stimulates the pandas and promotes natural behaviors. Suppose the care team members want to elicit a grooming behavior. In that case, they may put a scent on the logs or on a toy ball for the pandas to self-anoint (groom) themselves. With fall here, we have recently put out pumpkin spice and cinnamon for the giant pandas. Another part of enrichment that I have enjoyed is making the birthday boxes or celebration boxes for both the giant pandas and Jackie, our red panda.
Although I am not the most artistic, watching Yang Yang rip open his birthday box to find some treats and play with his ice cake was very rewarding and entertaining.
I have learned so much in my short time so far helping at the Zoo, and I cannot wait to expand my animal behavior knowledge more in the coming two and a half months!
Sophie R.
Intern, Carnivore Team

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