Panda Updates – Wednesday, June 27
Hello from PandaLand! It’s been awhile since I have worked more than a day here and there on giant panda routine, and this week I have the honor of spending my entire week with our black, white, and red bamboo-eaters!
All of the pandas have been a bit finicky about eating the bamboo we have on offer over the last few days. We’re lucky to have several strategies up our sleeves that help us encourage the pandas to eat their bamboo. One that we have discussed in previous updates is a leafeater biscuit feeding. This is basically a training session in which we ask the panda to eat bamboo, and if they eat just one bite, they receive a reward (a leafeater biscuit). Usually by the time we are done with the session, they have decided that the bamboo isn’t all that bad anyway.
Another thing we can try is hiding leafeater biscuits and pieces of produce inside feeder toys. This prolongs the time that it takes for the pandas to find their supplemental leafeater biscuits, which also encourages them to eat more bamboo in the process. Lun Lun is usually pretty content to work her way through a feeder toy, and if she doesn’t get all the biscuits out on the first try, she usually comes back over and over until she gets all of the biscuits out.
Yang Yang is a much tougher customer when it comes to encouraging him to spend time working for his food. He would much prefer that we put all of the leafeater biscuits in one pile on the floor …or better yet, his loving care team could feed him biscuits one after another! This makes offering Yang various feeding opportunities a challenge. I have enjoyed trying different ideas over the last couple of days. Today’s feeding opportunities were quite successful. I hung a feeder ball just above his head in one of his behind-the-scenes dens, and he had to reach up to manipulate the ball and get the biscuits out. After one feeding, he had retrieved all but one biscuit! This is probably a record success for him. I enjoyed watching him try to get all of the biscuits out, and he even checked the ball later in the feeding to see if he had forgotten any. His favorite enrichment item today was a honeycomb toy that had been stuffed with hay and biscuits and hung across his den so that he had to slide and spin it to get the biscuits out. I really enjoyed watching my “enrichment wins” today, and I think Yang did too!
Keeper II, Mammals