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LAST ADMISSION 04:30 pm
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Panda Updates – Wednesday, May 2

Ever since I changed job titles and moved out of the animal areas and into the Administration Building, I don’t get to spend nearly as much time with the animals as I used to. I try and get to all the mammal areas to see the animals as much as I can, but there is always so much to do, and I can’t get there as much as I want. Due to this, some of the animals simply aren’t used to me coming to see them every day anymore, and some of them become shy when I arrive. This is the same behavior that they show when they are around newer people. This is not the case with Yang Yang, however. Whenever I am able to make it down to giant pandas to work the routine with the care team, or am just simply checking in, Yang Yang is always there to say “hello.”

Today was one of those days. I arrived early in the morning to lend a hand with the morning’s activities, and when I made it back to Yang Yang, he was up and waiting. Just by looking at him, I knew from experience that he was in a playful mood. All Yang Yang wanted to do this morning was play. It was just like old times. We started with a game of follow-the-leader, panda style, and after he tired of that we finished it up with a nice long tug-of-war.

Unlike some of the other care team members, I do not let him win. I don’t win every time, but I have won my share. Regardless of who wins, I do know that I have always spent more energy than he has. It may be him who actually lets me win at times to keep me engaged. Who knows with this guy. I wouldn’t put it past him. I guess I should include that all of these play activities are always done with a mesh barrier between us. We are never actually in the same space with Yang Yang or the other pandas when they would like to play. That would not be a fun game. The tug-of-war match today ended in what I would call a draw. Yang Yang actually bit the rope in half, effectively ending the game. After a bit of hard play, there is nothing better than a nice treat to help you relax. I went back to the cooler and grabbed him the largest shoot that I could find, and he was more than happy to accept it. It always makes me smile when I see that look of sheer contentment on his face after a good match. I am sure that if I had a mirror at the time, his look of contentment would probably reflect my own.
Kenn Harwood
Assistant Curator of Mammals

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl