Panda Updates – Wednesday, February 26
We have been seeing a lot of breeding season-related behaviors from Yang Yang recently. This is typical for this time of year, and although Lun Lun and Yang Yang are no longer breeding, we still see the behaviors we would expect to see from a male giant panda. Being a heavily olfactory (scent) communicating species, giant pandas can detect a lot of different things about another giant panda by smelling the scent mark of another panda. Yang Yang is spending more time walking around his habitats, sniffing around, and scent marking to make sure all of the habitats are clearly claimed as his. Due to his heightened awareness of smells this time of year, we gave him a big hay bed filled with some of his favorite smells to roll in, so he could make sure that he felt he smelled nice for any lady giant pandas hanging around. While there are many theories as to why giant pandas self-anoint, one of them is that the pungent smells, in this case Tabasco sauce and isopropyl alcohol, make them stick out compared to the environment and thus easier for potential mates to find. While it is cute, it is an example of a type of enrichment we provide the animals at Zoo Atlanta so that they can exhibit species-appropriate behaviors that biologically and innately mean something to them.
Keeper II, Mammals