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Panda Updates – Wednesday, March 17

As you are probably aware (if you live in a state that participates in it, like we do), Daylight Saving Time began this week, meaning we moved our clocks forward an hour. A question I have been asked a few times is whether or not the animals seem to be affected by the time change. The short answer is not exactly. For the most part, we do not notice any major changes in the pandas. I was the team member early in the morning when Daylight Savings Time began over the weekend. While I had extra coffee in hand to get me through losing an hour of sleep, the bears were all still snoozing away when I arrived. To them, they would normally still have been sleeping at this time, so the clock being an hour different meant nothing to them. While it may have seemed like they were sleeping in to me, they were all following their natural sleep cycles.

For the most part, animals rely on what is known as circadian rhythm, or their “internal clock” to manage sleep and wake cycles. Circadian rhythm relies heavily on light cycles, which for many animals is simply when the sun rises and sets that helps “program” those internal clocks. This is why diurnal animals, like gorillas, are generally more awake during the day and sleep at night or why nocturnal animals, like opossums, are the opposite. Pandas are a little different as their sleep cycles are more cyclical than many animals. They tend to eat several meals of bamboo throughout the day and sleep about two to four hours at a time between meals. We can guess general timeframes of when the pandas are likely to be eating or sleeping based on when we feed them during our routine, but sometimes they decide to change it up and keep us guessing. You could say the pandas run on their own time!

Megan H.
Keeper I, Mammals

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