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Panda Updates – Wednesday, February 16

My name is Natalia, and I am currently interning in the Carnivore Department at Zoo Atlanta! I have spent the past few weeks with the Panda Care Team and wanted to share more about my experience and what I have learned so far!

As an intern at Zoo Atlanta, I have the opportunity to contribute to animal enrichment. Enrichment allows animals to demonstrate species-typical behaviors. This increases normal, healthy activities and allows for choice and control over their environment. Enrichment varies day-to-day for the pandas; no two days are the same. Some days the Panda Care Team enriches the pandas by putting toys in their environments to encourage them to play. Other days we enrich them by placing a scent, such as Listerine, pumpkin spice, or Tabasco (Yang Yang’s favorite) on logs so that they can groom themselves. All of these scents are pre-approved by our Veterinary Team for use with the pandas. Some other enrichment options that the pandas enjoy are positive reinforcement training sessions and foraging activities.

For Valentine’s Day this year, I created Valentine’s Day “cards” for each of the giant pandas and the red panda. I made their Valentine’s Day cards out of large brown bags containing hay, with a light dusting of cinnamon and stuffed with treats. Once they ripped the bags open, they were able to smell the cinnamon, eliciting them to groom. They also found their leafeater biscuits within the hay, bringing out their natural foraging behavior.

Overall, learning and observing the different natural behaviors that the giant pandas and the red panda demonstrate have been amazing experiences. I am looking forward to learning more about their behaviors during my time with the Panda Care Team. In the meantime, I hope you had a bear-y happy Valentine’s Day! 

(photo: Trish J.)

Natalia I.
Intern, Carnivore Team



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